Six years ago, I was completely unaware of what was unfolding 2,000 miles to the east.
Driving to the office, I noticed many people had their headlights turned on. Was it a holiday I'd forgotten about?
I walked into my office, greeted by a ringing phone. It was Walt, one of our clients.
"Have you been watching the news?"
"No, why? What's going on?"
"Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Another plane has crashed into the Pentagon. The FAA's grounded all flights, but there's still a plane missing."
"Walt, that's not funny. Don't even fuck with me."
"I'm not fucking with you. Go turn on the news in Ed's office."
I put down the phone and ran into Ed's office. He and several others were crowded around the television. I looked at the screen, astounded. The taste of copper filled my mouth.
Ed looked at me and said, "The towers are going to fall."
"Are there people in there? Those towers can't fall, Ed. That's impossible!" I said.
"Yeah. The towers've been burning for awhile. People have been jumping," he said.
"Good God," I said. I felt tears filling my eyes. I ran back into my office and picked up the phone. "Walt. I'll call you later," I said, and hung up the phone. I ran back into Ed's office.
I was just in time to witness a tower of smoke and dust shooting upward, eclipsing the tower. I could see the lightning rod slipping downward, disappearing into the gray mass.
"That's not the tower falling. It's not. The rod must have just snapped off the building," I kept saying.
I was wrong.
I had to call Dad.
As a fledgling architect, my Father worked for Minoru Yamasaki, the gentleman who designed the World Trade Center. I remember Mr. Yamasaki as a very nice man, who always greeted us girls warmly when we'd run into the office to pick up Dad at 5:00 p.m. In those early days, we were a one-car family. Getting to go into Yama's office was a special treat, because mysterious, magical stuff was created there (we girls called him Mr. Yamasaki, of course. His associates called him "Yama", especially those who drank scotch and played poker with him).
The most wonderful thing about Yama's, however, was the model room. In it were scale models of the firm's projects-- skyscrapers (Yama's forte), university buildings, synagogues. The World Trade Center was, of course, the centerpiece. To my young eyes, it was hard to believe that something so tall and slender could stay standing. On the WTC model, teeny-tiny model people strolled across the tree-dotted plaza, admiring the fountain, walking into the building.
It was all gone now.
I dialed Dad. He answered in his serious voice. I started crying.
"Oh, Dad! Your building! I'm so happy Mr. Yamasaki's not alive to see this. How on earth could this happen?"
"T-Bone," said Dad, "Sweetheart, I've got to tell you-- for those buildings to fall that quickly, those planes must have been loaded with jet fuel. I mean-- those are fifty-foot steel girders holding up that building. The heat-- I mean, it must have been..." he trailed off.
"Dad, I love you."
"I love you too, Boo."
The remainder of that day I sat and stared at the clock waiting to jettison out of my chair so I could go home and watch CNN. Once home, I sat stunned in my armchair, cat on my lap, watching the news.
During that time I lived near a college campus, and all that implies. The nightly parties grated on my nerves, but that evening on September 11, 2001, the parties were silent. No traffic on the streets. Just silence. I finally went to bed at midnight.
I lay there, listening to the jet fighters fly overhead every 20 minutes, until I nodded off.
The next day, my brother-in-law, Bingo, said it best:
"September 11th should be called 'The Day Osama Ruined the World.'"