Monday, September 12, 2011

Because so much has changed and because so much seems to be the same, I thought that I would post along with the other people in the world about my recollections of 9-11-01.

Alot of what I remember honestly is tied to: Here is New York.  It was my touchstone to what was happening all around the world (and in a way still is because I have the book and some pictures that I printed). I found that there was more truth in each and every one of the photographs that I looked at posted online on this site than what the mass media was posting. It made me pick up a camera after 10 years or so.   I found the website about a day after the planes hit the towers, I don't remember how but I remember thinking holy shit this is AMAZING. And this is exactly what the internet is about.  . 

A year later, when the book published.  I bought it.  I haven't opened it. Not once even to this day.  But I wanted to have it just in case the site ever went down and so that I could explain just how this tragedy and act of terrorism effected the world and me at the time.

But here is my story.

Living in Denver anything internationally you were either going to hear about on tv or in the papers at that time, there were no instant feeds on your Treo back in those days.  Imagine it....!  Its true!  The Treo had the interwebs but not at all remotely close to what we can do now.  Not even remotely close.  You could text. That was about it.  Ok you might be able to synch your calendar with outlook but there were no newsfeeds. There was no Twitter. There was no Meetup. There was no Facebook.  Think about that. A lifetime right?  And then the world completely changed.  On a dime. And this is going to sound really odd... but I think we all are a little better for it.  We have instant access to information. Photography has completely changed.  Our information is immediate.  So while odd to say... and certainly all these things that we have in the palm of our hands (literally) were all in the making, now everything is different. 

But this is now and the post is about then.

It was a normal day, a normal morning. Woke up, took Herschel out for a walk.  Undoubtedly drank a cup or two of coffee.  Probably thought wow what a beautiful morning.... then I did the weirdest thing ever.  I turned on the tv in my bedroom to set the vcr for the Oprah Show. Now if there is anything you should know about me, there is this one thing in the world.... I might watch the Oprah Show if it was on but I would NEVER actually take the time to tape it.  Set the VCR and all that stuff... but I remember clearly thinking "I  should tape Oprah today".  I turned on the TV to see the second plane hit.  At first I wasn't sure what I was seeing.  A trailer for a movie maybe? Not sure. Then Diane Sawyer if I remember correctly said that this was the second plane to hit.  Huh.  I sat on the edge of my bed just a little flabbergasted trying to take in what I was seeing.

Then I realized that my boss was on a plane, he was scheduled to depart about 10 minutes from when I turned the tv on, so I got on the phone and called him.  Back in those days you could have your cell phones on all the time.  SOOOOO.... I call and ask if they have departed, he said no. So I say "you might want to get off the plane".  Now get this, he was heading out of town to meet with a key client and it was a HUGE deal for the company. For me to tell him and the the other guy that I worked for at the company (who was sitting next to him - and more on that in a minute) to get off the plane was huge.  I didn't want to panic him or freak him out as he had family in NY and honestly at the time I didn't know anything about where Manhattan sat in NY so didn't know what was going on, and no one really did.  So I say that there is an emergency and I didn't think planes are going to be going anywhere and if they haven't closed the door. Get. Off. The. Plane.

I then told him to call me when he was in the terminal.  So they get off the plane. He calls me and I told him that the World Trade Centers were actually collapsing right now (which they were as he was calling me).  He asked me if I was joking.   I will never forget this.  I stood there completely silent, then leaned over and dropped the phone.  It just was so massive I couldn't comprehend.  It took a second to regain my composure and I picked up the phone and my bosses were now in the bar at this point or lounge or something.  I said I would be in the office in a bit and would bring my little tv. They said they would meet me there.

So there were four planes that were hijacked at this point.  FOUR.  That was incomprehensible to me.  I just wanted to get my bossess off that plane incase something else were to happen. 

So found out later that four hours later they let everyone get off the plane. Those that didn't get  off before the towers went down had to sit on the plane for four more hours before they were allowed back into the terminal. 

We get into the office, put the tv in the conference room and watch for a bit and all go home. I mean what could you really do here in Denver? I came home looked at the sky above me (I live under what used to be, but is no longer, a flight path to DIA from California and Nevada).  It was tremendously weird to not see planes flying in for a week. A week of no planes. 

My other boss who was on the plane heading out for the meeting was on the phone with his wife who was not able to tell him what was going on exactly.  So here is the kicker, his brother worked for the President and he had another brother who was at the time working at the Pentagon (which is probably why his wife couldn't really talk since at about that time is when they were explaining that the plane had hit the Pentagon and the other plane was down in Pennsylvania). So I was listening to him trying to talk to his wife and telling them to get off the plane.  At the time I didn't have a clue about his brothers and the potential peril they were in.  And by the by, a couple days later we got the news in the office from our bosses, that everyone in DC related to him was fine, ok and no worse for wear.  Which was great. All the family in NY was accounted for safe and sound and everyone was relieved. 

I actually remember thinking about F and where he lived in NY and I was hoping that he was ok.  Certainly it was 5 years or so since I had last seen him, but when you know someone is living in NY and you don't know the landscape of NY it makes it topical to wonder.  So there that is.  And all these years later when we walked through Brooklyn and we walked by where he was that day and stood on the hill in the park where he was that day, I am grateful that he was far away.  I am glad that he didn't go to Ground Zero.  I am glad that he didn't because it made him safe. 

I didn't watch tv, the endless hours of watching Anderson Cooper standing around talking about it.  I couldn't do it. I looked at the pictures online instead a couple times a day.  But I made sure that I tempered myself and didn't spend all day watching the days unfold because I know myself, I can and could have especially at that time got caught up in the tragedy and become totally tormented.   So a couple times a day I would go to the news sites online and go to Here Is NY. 

The instant nature of the site was unbelievable to me at the time and still is.  The pop up gallery (which they posted about and blogged about) was truly amazing too, that just out of nowhere they could print and have a gallery in an instant. 

I did try to contact someone about having access to their works/photographers to try and do something here and do some fundraising for their charity so that there would be a central location for people to go and see what I was seeing and experiencing but understandably they were overwhelmed and didn't return my phone calls or emails.  So instead I told everyone I could about the site. 

A year later on the first anniversary, things were back to normal. Normal morning, normal work, normal.  About 8:00 I hear the tell tale rumble of jets.  Jets flying over my house.  I freaked out.  Right over the house.  Loud.  I thought holy shit... it's happening here today right now. Then I remembered that one of the pilots is buried in the cemetery near my house and the Air Force was commemorating the day with the flyover.  But still I think for those who didn't instantly figure it out it was really pretty scarey. 

The political landscape has forever changed.  How we travel has forever changed (remember when you didn't have to get to the airport a minimum of 1 hour before your flight?). And honestly I think how we live day to day has forever changed.  I am not saying that the terrorists won (which I have heard some pundits say) but I know I have changed.  I think that the world was woken up to the evil that exists in the minds of men.  I think that the world now understands that people inherently aren't always good.  I haven't given up on that idea just yet but it's in the back of my mind.

I know that yesterday we didn't watch a minute of television.  We just wanted to be as far away from the coverage as possible.  I was though extremely surprised that there wasn't a fly over in the morning.  Perhaps that is economical that taking the F10s is too expensive.  I dunno.  We kept waiting for it though. 

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