10 years ago, Tuesday, I was driving to work a bit early -- we had a 9am all-staff meeting, and I had some work-tasks I needed to perform before going. I was probably parked at 8:24, blissfully unaware that the world had already changed. Clocked in at 8:27, did my tasks, and left at 8:48 to walk to the meeting.
At one point I recall a cell phone ringing, and my only thought was, "rude person forgot to turn it off." If the content of this call were news of the outside world, though, it was not shared with the other attendees.
Got back to my desk at about 10:30, and my coworker Greg said, "They've attacked the Pentagon!"
Realize I live in a computer world, and please forgive me my naive response: "You mean, like, a VIRUS?"
On his answer, I walked away from my desk, up to the main floor. My shyness did not interfere with me standing with a crowd of other people who were trying to cobble together an antenna for a found television so we could get tolerable reception. Although nobody knew me, nobody questioned my right to be there. One, noticing the volume of my tears, asked me if I were okay.
I stared in disbelief. I madly hoped this was a "War of the Worlds" broadcast scenario. I thought that the one shot of the plane hitting the tower, the wing protruding, and then the explosion was one that would cause cinematographers everywhere to kick themselves for not having thought of it first.
For the next 6 months I played a radio stream through the speakers, not just the headphones, sharing tidbits with my coworkers when I heard a news-bit first.
I remember watching the towers being built. I remember my parents pointing them out to me as we drove, or bussed, into The City.
WorldCon 2001 was in Philadelphia. I drove out. This was Pre-GPS days, at least for me, and I wrote down my turns on paper. Late August found me driving, on my way to the Con, to spend a few days with my brother in Virginia. I missed a turn, only positive that I'd done so when I hit the DC loop. I pulled off and into a parking lot and used my Atlas to wend my way back. Later, visiting my sister in New Jersey, I took a quick jaunt into NYC to spend the evening with a friend in lower Manhattan. I took the train in, and I don't even recall whether I saw the Towers. They were just part of the skyline I knew, so if I saw them I didn't notice
them. After the con, in early September, my husband and I drove home across Pennsylvania. I don't remember how close our path took us to the crash site of Flight 93. Spouse may know.
I found great comfort in the solidarity and kindness I saw from many other countries -- collections of flowers, expressions of grief -- or reflections of my own disbelief. I despair that the good will we had following that day seems to have been squandered.
For a few years, I found a small comfort in the fact that they had not taken down the Lady of the Harbor. It seems to me, now, that we ourselves have since taken out much of what she stood for.
It's not reasonable to hope for the innocence, the childhood, of 9/10/2001. I only hope that in the new, adult, world, we can find a path, a direction, a way that can keep some of the ideals of that childhood intact. I fear, though, that Orwell was just a touch ahead of his time.