How I Met Your Father. I was traveling with my sister, Tracy, we were on a day trip from Buenos Aires completely clueless what was going on in New York and Washington, DC.
I left on the first flight from BA to JFK, which was still a day after our original flight. I flew back to a world that was surreal, in mourning and devastated by the attacks. Armed guards were everywhere in the airport and the city just had a sombre feel to it.
The day after I flew back, I took the subway down to the former World Trade Center to by see it in person. Seeing it live somehow made it seem more personal. I distinctly remember a jewelry store that had piles of dust covering all its window displays, the cases filled with mounds of brown/grey dust from the towers. The fire was still raging and thick black smoke still billowed up into the sky. It was four days later, but not much progress had been done - it was a massive clean up to be certain.
Papers still scattered the streets, and people walked around in a zombie-like state, quietly taking it in, some were crying, most just silent. I left a lit candle in one of the impromtu vigil sites and then went home - to the Upper East Side.
I didn't go back down there for years. I lost three friends, including a childhood friend from the Bahamas - Karen, my neighbour - Kev, and an old work buddy, Cal. Several people that I had met also died. It was just all so devastating. The photos that people posted looking for their loved ones were the most difficult reminders. It personalized the tragedy for all New Yorkers - to see the faces of those who senselessly died.
I had a roommate but I remember feeling more alone that I ever felt in my life. In less that four months I met Fen, who would become my husband. For the first 10 years I was in NY I was so focused on my career and 'making' it, that I never really gave relationships much of a chance. I wonder if I would have even met Fen if 9/11 hadn't happened (go read the story if you don't know what I'm talking about - the link is at the top).
In the ten years since, my favourite Aunt Cate passed away, I married Fen, we had two children, I switched jobs, we moved to London and my sister Tracy passed away. My life is completely different - and for the better, for the most part. My job is third: Marriage and Children first, playdates and crafts/time with my children is second, job third. Wine is fourth, but that's another conversation. And that's the way it should be.
Today I'm reflective about that awful day. I lit a candle for all my deceased friends and family and for all the families of 9/11 victims. Hopefully, something like this will never happen again, anywhere.