Like all of you, I remember where I was and how I felt on that morning 10 years ago. Events that had no equal in scale, horror, tragedy and significance to Americans and many others transpired before our eyes.
I was up early with a new 3 month old baby girl and 2 yr old son. I became aware of the 1st tower hit and then the 2nd terrifying hit on TV before I headed to the salon. Frightened and confused to what all might occur I assumed we should carry on with our day. I arrived at the salon but turned the TVs to the news and then called my brother. I have 3 brothers but I called the one that was a pilot for American Airlines and lived and flew out of Chicago. There was no answer. I watched along with my clients as the towers fell and then the Pentagon getting hit. My thoughts remained with my brother. I spoke to other family and the consensus was that he must be flying but we didn’t know where. There were tense moments as reports were sketchy as to which airline and what kind of planes had been highjacked and seemed to continue being highjacked. I finally got message from him hours later. He had, in fact been flying at the time but thankfully landed safely in Chicago. The day was surreal. Where were you? Do you recall the feeling? It was transformative. Everything we knew growing up here in the USA changed that day. What was previously unthinkable, happened. What else could happen? Fear and confusion set in. But as you know something else grabbed hold. Pride and unity. Petty differences and so many other things fell with the towers as we were moved beyond them that day. The best of what makes up our country and humanity itself shined it’s brightest.
Jump to a month later, Oct 2001. I flew to NYC for business with one of my stylist and friend, Corey. We took a cab as close to ground zero as they would let us go. The whole lower end of the city was still without power, people were wearing masks and it was dark. Too dark , too quiet for New York city. People were being told to stay away from the area. We continued on and walked for hours that night. We worked our way down to the site. It was barricaded off and policed by NYPD. We spoke with them and gave our condolences and appreciatiation. Out of respect we took no pictures, as we had heard they didn’t like that. We finally got to an area that had a clear view of the actual wreckage. Ground Zero, indeed. Stunning. The iconic remaining twisted steel exoskeleton was still sticking out of the mountain of debri. Work lights illuminated the horror. But more than anything else, I will never ever forget the smell. It was a toxic cocktail of debri, concrete, metal, chemicals and what can’t be described as anything else but burnt flesh. It was obvious and palpable. I then knew that’s what people were trying to stay away from. No one talked about it but everyone knew what it was. I smell it now as I recollect it. It so disgusted me and we left the site as angry as we were sad,.. wrecked. It was a feeling of total violation. Two guys from a thousand miles away feeling personally violated and connected like we had never been before to our nation. If only someday we can feel that connected to all of humanity. Where were you?
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