When the World Stopped Turning

Where were you?

Things that once were…

I was at work.  In fact, I had taken a break and was visiting a favorite site – Cooking Light Message Boards.  Someone posted that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. 

I thought maybe it was one of those traffic choppers or small planes.  I never thought of an airliner among those buildings.  And I never thought of it being done deliberately.

The news came in, worse and worse.  Strikes at the Pentagon, a plane downed in Pennsylvania in an act of true heroism…

A dear friend worked near the WTC: she was safe, thank God, but it scarred her for a long time.

The images that came out of that day – the rescue workers going up the stairs as the people came streaming down.  The rescuers, the protectors.  The heroes.

I will say now that I never watched the footage of the plane hitting the tower.  I somehow missed it that first day and the next two.  I wasn’t avoiding it.  The timing was wrong.  And then someone posted it, and I saw the plane take a turn, head toward the tower –  I switched off the video.  I did not need to see it, and I did not need to see the film of the tower going down.  Not that I am squeamish: my line of work – what I do to put bread on the table – has given me a very strong stomach. 

No, I didn’t want to give those villains any further…what?  credit for their villainy?  Fear?  I stopped puzzling about it.

Some years later I went to New York on business.  I had not realized what a hole the absence of The Towers left in the sky.  They had always been a sort of beacon for me.  My first time in NYC, decades ago, I had gotten lost in a snowstorm.  I needed to find the WTC so that I could go into the subway there.  But I couldn’t read the street signs (covered with snow).  A passer-by, hearing that I was lost and looking for the Towers, smiled and pointed.  And there they were against the winter sky, welcoming me.

That presence was gone.  I was disoriented.  I paused at The Battery – you can see the Statue of Liberty there – and strolled through the park.  And I came upon a battered hunk of bronze that looked somehow familiar. 

It was the globe that sat in the plaza at the World Trade Center.  I had passed it many times.  Battered, broken…  How strange to see it.

Where were you?

2 comments on “When the World Stopped Turning

  1. Cherdo says:

    I'll never forget my husband calling me and telling me to turn on the TV – there's something going on in New York. As I watched the devastation caused by the first plane, I called my mother and told her to turn on the news. As we both were talking, we saw the second plane his the other tower. My mother paused and said, “This isn't real, is it? Is this some kind of movie or joke, like War of the Worlds?”I still feel like it can't be real. It was a new level of evil.

  2. Played hooky from work that day. Stayed glued in front of the TV for hours. Traumatized, now never forgetting.

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