Where Were You? Hating the ‘Quiet’ After 9/11

Painting by Jane F Beebe @Copyright Jane Finn Beebe

That’s the question every is asking today. It’s been 11 years.

We are still in a war in Afghanistan.

We have troops all over the world.

Airplane travel is not what it used to be.

Every time there is some outbreak of some weird disease, or West Nile, or Hantavirus, or flesh-eating bacteria, you can’t tell me that you don’t raise your eyes just a teensy bit at that kind of thing.

My family was in New Jersey in the 70s and 80s. We lived in a quaint small Jersey town on the Erie Lackawanna commuter train. Mom would take dad to the train every morning . Dad would ride the Lackawanna in to Hoboken and then take the PATH into the World Trade Center stop. He worked for AT&T at 195 Broadway for years. We used to love going in and meeting him for lunch. We would watch the fish mongers at South St Seaport. We toured the WTC many times. Dad was there when that guy walked on a tightrope between both of the towers.  It was a great experience and left wonderful memories of growing up ‘Jersey’.

Labor Day weekend 2001 BC and I went with friends to Manhattan for the weekend to see the US Open and enjoy a kid free, restaurant and touring filled long weekend. On the Saturday of that weekend our plans were to go to the top of the WTC as our friends had never done that and then enjoy a drink at Windows on the World. We arrived at a subway stop and walked up the stairs only to hear that the subway was not going all the way downtown because of repairs, and that you had to take a bus. The lines were ridiculous. So we decided–‘We’ll get it on our next trip’.

My how life changes in 5 days.

Where was I?  I was getting ready to go to the barn and ride my horse that morning after I dropped off (then) 6 at kindergarten.  BC was down in the man cave on his computer, natch.  I was watching the TODAY show and when they came on looking quite confused talking about a possible small plane going in to one of the towers, I called down to BC and told him to come up and see this.  He came up and was watching, and then said, “I don’t think that was a small plane, honey.” A while later we actually watched the other plane go in.  The feeling in my stomach was horrible.  BC is ex-Air Force and commented quietly, ‘This is not good…”

The rest of that day and week was spent watching the  TV and listening to the radio.  Driving around, even here in Atlanta, was a surreal experience.  The quiet was palpable in stores, in schools, everywhere.  Almost eerie.  That  is what I remember.  And it didn’t go away really fast.  It took some time to get back to normal.  If you even call it that.  It’s just different now.  How different, I don’t know, but it is.  Loss of innocence.  I guess.

We were coming back from a Christmas trip to Brussels Belgium in 2010.  We traveled on Christmas day back to Atlanta.  BC was flying the plane.  About an hour before we were to land, the first officer came on the microphone and told us that the FAA didn’t want anyone up, in the aisle, or un-escorted to the lavatory for the last hour of the flight. OK, I think to myself, this is unusual. One of the flight attendants husband who went with us immediately got on his smart phone and told me that there was some incident going on at the Detroit airport – the underwear bomber.  No one really knew what was happening, but there was that quiet again. 

I don’t ever want to hear THAT quiet again.

There are many posts and stories told today-even around the world.  I just needed to add mine.