Monday, September 15, 2008

Other stuff I did in NYC

So we went to NYC last Thursday (Sept. 11). I must say that that day is my least favorite day of the year.

We lived in NYC 7 years ago when our country was senselessly attacked by terrorists. It was the day my generation's world dramatically changed from what it used to be. Adam was a police officer on the NYPD, but he worked the Third Watch shift, 4pm-12am. So he was home that morning. The first plane hit the South Tower of the WTC while we were watching the Today Show. I decided that I would take a shower, and while I was in the bathroom the second plane hit the North Tower of the WTC.

I remember Adam pounding on the bathroom door, demanding that I get out of the bathroom as he was going to get ready to go to work. He hadn't been called, there wasn't anything announced on tv about any emergency workers needing to report for duty, he just knew that he was going. So into the shower he went, and off to work he rushed. Adam worked in the 105th Precinct, which was on the border of Queens and Nassau County, Long Island. He didn't come home for 3 days. He called when he could just to tell us where he was and what he was doing....mostly standing guard at different places in his precinct. When he finally came home, he told us all vacation time has been temporarily recalled and they cut the shifts from 3- eight hour shifts to 2 - twelve hour shifts. It went on like that for 5 weeks.

I watched the towers fall on television. These two towers that were the reflections of power my city had over the world. 102 minutes. When the second tower collapsed, I had just put Dylan down for a nap...and after closing the door to his room, walked to the living room where I just fell to the floor in tears. I was alone, unsure of what else could happen to my city. My mom was in Manhattan when everything happened, at a doctor's appointment. She made it by bus to the 59th Street Bridge from downtown but then had to walk across the bridge as the city locked down and the only way to get in and out of the city was by foot. Mom made it home past 8pm that night - dad picked her up at the foot of the bridge - 5 miles from our house. It took her that long to walk the bridge - she started walking around lunchtime.

A few days after the 12 hour shifts started (he worked from 6pm-6am), he and his partner at the time were sent to the WTC. We only had one car, so I drove him into the city as far as I could before the streets were barricaded (about 1 mile radius from Ground Zero). I remember it being fairly dark at 5:30 on a Sept. morning, but since there was 24 hour digging going on, even a mile away, it was lit up like daytime with flood and construction lights.

Adam only went down there twice and his job both times, with his partner, was to be a supply runner into what they called the pit. He took in water and masks and gloves and tools and buckets and such things to people who actively dug through rubble to find survivors and remains. While he won't (or can't) talk about it at length, Adam said being there was like being in a nightmare that you couldn't wake up from. He said that he spent what felt like hours in the pit looking around at the destruction, paralyzed with such disbelief, when in reality it was only a few minutes. He ended up developing asthma from his exposure and hopefully nothing more...only time will tell.

In the days that followed, I felt helpless but determined to be part of the humanity that resulted from the tragedies of 9/11. I went door-to-door in my neighborhood of 3 1/2 blocks and dropped a typed invitation to a candlelight walk to our local firehouse to thank the firemen there (they lost a few men, in the days prior, to a huge fire in Queens). I wasn't sure if anyone would come, so while I was getting Dylan ready to go for a walk in his stroller, my father came and told me to hurry up and come outside. And when I got out my door, we had about 150 people gathered to walk. So we lit our candles and walked about 1/2 mile to our local firehouse. The firemen were just saying goodbye to another group from a different neighborhood, because the bus taking them back to the WTC was waiting for them. I hadn't prepared anything to say, when we got there. So I said the only thing that I could think of, "thank you for your sacrifice, everyday." I turned to my neighbors and said, "Shake their hands, give them isn't everyday that you get to touch a real hero."

We're reminded of that day, by little things that happen in our lives, everyday - like I happen to catch the time 9:11 on a digital clock at least 10 times a week. I don't seek it, it just happens. If Adam starts coughing and it doesn't go away in a day or two, it reminds me of the damage that may have occurred due to his exposure. I make him see a doctor about it, nearly right away - when I myself wouldn't go to the doctor right away for anything. When we watch an old movie with the old NYC skyline, we feel the pang of emptiness because our city doesn't look like that anymore. We have an illuminated panorama of that same skyline, it used to hang in our living room - it's now in our bedroom.

Originally, when we went down to NYC, Adam had no plans of coming with me to take pictures of the Tribute in Light...two beams of light that shine where the WTC Towers once stood. But I asked him to come with me, in case it was desolate (I think living up here has made me less "city" and not that I fear NYC, but rather fear something happening to my camera). We went to the Promenade in Brooklyn that is directly across the East River from Lower Manhattan. It was littered with NYPD officers and dozens of people doing the same thing I was there doing - taking pictures. Everyone had a tripod, everyone had a zoom lens, everyone had video cams. I should have known better; I was not going to be alone out there and it wasn't like taking a picture of this place is an original idea, known to only to me.

These are what I got...

I wish I didn't have photos of light beams - these shots would have been only better with Towers in them.


* marie said...

great shots of the WTC tribute... it's hard to see with tears in your eyes though so i'll have to visit your blog another day when i'm prepared with tissues...

Just-Kim said...

Your post was so moving to me. It's a date in history that we can all reflect on and know exactly where we were when this tragedy happened. Thanks for sharing your story.