9/11 20 Years Later Memory Reflections
It took me 20 years to really share memories of this day. This crisp clear blue sky day 20 years later is an eerie reminder to me of 9/11 before it happened the day started out feeling hopeful the pleasant breeze and just beautiful weather would soon be grayed out by smoke and ash and changed forever. 😔
I can’t believe 20 years has passed already! Sending love to all those who lost someone that day. Below are a smattering of memories some may be rambling and repeated, but I just wanted to collect all my thoughts I have written over the years and this morning. I wanted them all together in one blog. I may add to this as more memory fragments show up.
Beginning with a now eerie drawing and poem I doodled in in my sketchbook done a couple years before the attack.
On a beautiful late summer evening in Hoboken I sat outside dreaming and drawing while looking at the sparkling skyline.
“9-10-99 Sitting in Hoboken waiting for my train on a warm breezy evening and the skyline sparkles like a jewel box—jewel box island beautiful and flawed—an imperfect beauty standing so tall. “
When I was about 10 or 11 I took this picture from the rooftop of one of the world trade center towers. I was quite the avant-garde photographer which is a fancy way of saying I sucked at taking photos back then. I wish I had better pictures from my visits there but this is all I have from my 6th grade class trip.
When I was 16 I went with my friend at that time Ana to the city where we met up with her dad who was a jeweler and he took us to lunch at windows on the world I think I also ate there a couple more times in my teens and 20s. Not once do I have photos of those times. I wish I did. This was a time before smart phones took over this was a time I thought the towers would always be there so I didn't need to have documented memories. It is not in the end about the loss of buildings but always about the loss of life the change it had on our lives going forward. It affected every single one of us deeply. It really embedded the feeling of life being fleeting and change just comes out of nowhere crashing everything you once knew to the ground.
When I was 28 I used to commute to the towers path station throughout 2001 until that week of 9/11 which that Friday before I was told they didn’t need help next week and was not called in to freelance luckily! And then everything changed. I used to go shop in the basement level shops I even bought a pair of sparkly cherry earrings I wore at my wedding. I lost one of them and only have the one earring but still keep it even though there is no match. Like an artifact from a lost world.
It took me almost 20 years to go back to work in NYC back in 2018 I began working at scholastic where I work presently. This commute brought back to the WTC but this was such a different commute. My first time walking through the path station to the subway through the bones of The Oculus felt haunting.
I moved slowly looking up letting sunlight bathe my face awash with memories.
It wasn’t till 2019 when I took my niece and little sister to NYC to visit scholastic and site seeing that I visited the inside of the new freedom tower as well as visit the 9/11 memorial for the first time. It took that long to face it. I am really so happy to share this first experience of my return to familiar sacred stomping grounds with my niece and sister.
Today marks 20 years since 2001 have passed now and I am working from home not commuting it is still a pandemic which now a days is feeling more like an endemic. The days before 9/11/01 were like lost magical days of simpler times. Yes complications always existed but to me as time has gone on where we are now feels on this blue sky morning not so hopeful more like a memory of lost days and an uncertainty hangs in the air now. There is a heaviness that lingers. How I long for the lightness.
The rooftop view from scholastic of the new freedom tower taken on 9/11/19
It is really odd I actually don’t have any photos of the WTC towers I grew up near NYC visited it as a child—had dinner a couple times in my teens and 20s. Yet I don’t have any photos that I am aware of.
The closest thing to an image of the two towers that I have is the abstract photo above that I took when I a kid overwhelmed by the size and height and how windy it was on top of the towers also how strange it was to be able to go outside at the height. So my photo was completely askew which is perfect to how I felt being so high up.
The doodle in my journal notes was the closest thing I have to an image of the towers that I took. It’s hard for me to imagine that I don’t have an image of this as I love to document and save images.
About a month before the attack I had a solo art show in Hoboken that I took my mother and sisters to see afterwards we took a walk by the water to see the skyline and take some photos. I ended up getting that roll developed sometime after the 9/11 attacks and felt so hopeful to be able to see a last memory maybe in that film roll but not one image taken had the towers which I found odd because I remember taking some shots but not one was in the photos the developer returned to me. I always felt suspicious like my images were stolen but I digress.
I was really heartbroken to not have one last image only memories in my mind are what’s left. No real proof of existence together documented. So I decided to take the time to compile my personal memories of those two giants.
I remember 20 years ago it was a crisp clear blue sky morning much like the sky I look out on to today — this kind of weather will always make me have a queasy feeling in my gut on this particular day.
I was freelancing back then at a design agency in lower Manhattan and would commute through the World Trade Center each time I would go to work. The agency I worked for would tell me ahead of time which days they would need me to come in and as luck would have it for me I was not needed on this day.
My typical morning commute was at around the time 9/11 happened so my heart sank feeling nauseous when I saw that first plane hit on the tv... so much loss and just unbelievable tragedy. I can’t tell you how I felt so grateful to not to have work that day. I sat and watched the horror unfold safe from my second floor apartment in a two family home in Ridgewood New Jersey.
I watched the horror unfold, feeling completely helpless and terrified. Frantically calling on my land line to all the people I cared about and checking off one by one they were all thankfully safe and accounted for. I know how incredibly fortunate I was to not have lost anyone close to me and my heart aches for all those that were lost that day. It was a horrific day that left so much trauma afterwards. My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones and to all who had to be in the city and endure this experience first hand.
For what felt like a long time I didn’t want to look at the NYC skyline I didn’t want to see the void in the skyline and the sound of planes flying too low would freak me out pretty much to this day actually.
So all I am left with are memory fragments, I have no photos of the old towers except the terrible photo I took of the tower antenna when I stood outside on the rooftop wind whipping my hair around when I was on a school trip (6th grade I think). I used my disposable camera to try and document this grandeur and ended up with a poorly framed photo but it fills me with all the memories of visiting the towers from the ages of 10-28 years old.
On 9/11/2001 I did document the day in my sketchbook book I was distraught and took to my journals to release my feelings I have never shown these pages to anyone before they are raw and a bit abstract but full of horror and sorrow.
A few other doodles from that time soon after 9/11/2001 follow…
20 years in a flash have passed. Memory fragments are all I have left and a deep gratitude to all my loved ones for still being with me. I do know how lucky I am. Life is fleeting and we can't control so much of how life goes but we can be aware and embrace the love and beauty daily that we are faced with and share that light with others in an often times dark place. Wishing you all peace in your hearts.
P.S. If you are someone I know/knew and have photos from before 9/11/01 please share them with me <3 I do love coming upon memory fragments!