Who can forget 9/11? I remember that day so vividly - I went to work in the morning like most people, and got a phone call from my mom saying a plane had crashed into the WTC. I was in shock... how could that happen? A short while later, another phone call... another plane had crashed into the other tower. Okay. So that was when we all started to think that something was wrong, way more wrong then just a plane crash. I thought about how a short while back, while visiting NYC, I enjoyed the view from Windows of the World. How could a plane have crashed into that building? Then, another plane hits the Pentagon... and then, another plane crashes in the field. By this point, everyone at work had gathered around the TV to watch as CNN was showing live footage as the towers came crashing down... it was such a disturbing image - it will never leave me. It was the moment in our lifetime that we use to describe 'before' and 'after'. (Well, that and 'before' becoming a parent and 'after'). That morning, I was wearing a pair of olive green GAP pants, a white long sleeved shirt, and an over-the-shoulder purse. I was eating grapes. And I started to cry. I left work, and all the cars around me, you could tell, were in such a state of shock. There were reports that another plane had crashed. And another. A plane was heading towards the Parliament buildings. All airports were closed. We were at war. Terrorists had struck and made the entire world stand still, afraid, never quite able to recover from that one day, no matter how many American flags were flying proud, no matter how much people tried to carry on with thier lives. So many innocent people had died. All for nothing, a bunch of stupid cowards who just thought it would be fun to do something crazy. Clearly they had serious mental issues. Clearly they are burning in the deepest level of hell. My thoughts quickly turned to my uncle, who lives in D.C. with his wife and son. As a senior economist with the World Bank, he frequenly travelled to the middle east. Was he somewhere overseas that day? I got home to find my mom trying to contact his wife, to no avail. Phone lines were down in D.C., of course. My uncle was in the middle east - he was in Jordan. We were able to reach him, and he was also frantically trying to reach his wife to see if she, along with their child, were okay. We finally got through to his wife, and she was fine, and had just picked up her son from daycare. We relaxed a bit. After that day, flying has always been just that much more scary, for me, anyway... suddenly, everyone is a suspect... the security at airports increased tenfold... I was on edge with every flight I took.
And, to this day, everyday, so many years later, thoughts of 9/11 cross my mind. Today, for instance. I work on the 21st floor at work. The fire alarm went off. "Loukia, we have to go," my manager said to me. It was obviously no drill since the temperature outside was minus 35. I walked to the stairs along with the hundreds of other people who work in the same building. As soon as I entered the staircase, all I could think about was that day, 9/11, and I thought about how those people felt, trying to walk down so many flights of stairs... way more than 21... 85, 72, 63, 50... how hopeless they must have felt! I felt very frightened. People were not walking fast enough. The stairwell was tight and hot. And then a voice comes across the PA system, saying: "Attention - a fire has been detected on the 11th floor. Everyone on floors 10, 11, and 12 please evacuate the building immediately. Everyone else, stay put." Stay put! Yeah, right, I thought... the same thing was told to the victims of 9/11. At first, we all stopped walking. Then, my manager continued to walk. At this point we were on the 17th floor. I followed him. And so did everyone else. It took forever. Once we made it to the 11th floor, we started to feel a little better... but it was still a long walk down. Finally... we were outside. What a relief! How very scary it was. Nothing like what the victims of 9/11 felt, and in perspective, not a big deal, but still - those few moments were very scary. I kept thinking about my baby, my family, and what sort of text message I would leave them. Morbid, yes. But again, my mind was running away with crazy thoughts. Again, just a reminder of how my life has changed since that day... all we can do is pray and hold our loved ones tighter at night.