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Memories of 911, 15 years on

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Every couple years I try to share my own personal memories of September 11th as a 31-year-old resident of Washington, DC.

Memories of 911, 15 years on

9:20am replay of 9/11 attacks

Today's a very solemn day. Ground zero of not only the most massive attack on America but also ground zero of a series of endless wars and loss of life that have spanned one-and-a-half decades of my life. So, today is still, circa 2016, a solemn day.

Currently, as I write this, MSNBC is replaying NBC's coverage real time in a time-stamped little box (seen here).  I took the photo the moment when they started talking about obvious terrorist attacks and retaliation at around 9:20 or so AM. Very interesting.

If you were too young, you might not remember how much the entire world came to our support immediately after the 9/11 attacks (and, I guess, until Iraq). At the time I was working for a Berlin-based company called beehive GmbH and they called me to make sure I was OK as did all of my friends from around the world that I had met in University in England and when I did my around-the-world backpacking five-years before.

I keep my closed captions on all the time as I often watch movies and TV when I row and leave the TV on news during the day even when I am on calls.

Anyway, all of the blog posts I wrote during and after the attacks on 9/11 are below, full-text, in the proper narrative order, with links to where they live on this site.  You don't really have to click through because everything is inline and below.

Chez Michelle

A year ago this morning at 0719, 11 September 2001, I woke up with Michelle. Michelle had recently moved out of our shared apartment and into her new condo in the Chandra Levy building in deepest, darkest Dupont, Washington, DC, US.

Michelle felt sick. I got up, had some water, used the loo, and then left the little Studio flat with our dog. I walked Suzi up to P Street, grabbed Michelle some food from the convenience store. The kind of care package one collects for a friend who is under the weather. As everyone knows, I always over-buy. She could have camped out in her little apartment, under the covers, for a week on my supplies.

Driving the Jeep Home on 9/11

I must have spent some time with Michelle, as she was under the weather, because on my drive back from Michelle's pad in Dupont, I had the windows rolled down and Morning Edition on the radio. It was then that I heard about the 0850 and 0904 crashes into the World Trade Center. First into the first Twin Tower (as I knew them) and then the second, respectively.
The weather was pristine, in the low 80's like it is today, and I had the windows down and the radio was on loud. I looked over to other drivers and we shared looks. The looks were not terror, they were not panic, they were not any of those things. They were not even numb, dumb looks. They were looks of incredulousness. Disbelief. Dumfounded.

There were rumors of all sorts of things at that moment. There had been no sort of anything in DC yet, but there were rumors that there was a bomb in the State Depeartment.

At this time, 9:30, I was driving fast down Massachusetts Avenue, returning from a night's sleepover with my ex-girlfriend, Michelle.

I was staying there because I has double-booked my apartment and as there was a bed for Isabelle and a bed for Kate, I was either sleeping on the love seat (I am 6'3") or in the bed of a friend. Michelle was my friend. Michelle is my friend. So are Kate and Isa.

Lincoln Park and the Explosion on 9/11

I returned to the Hill, and was rounding Lincoln park, on 11th Street, SE, and I heard an enormous, muffled, but distant blast. There were rumors on the radio that there was a bomb at the State Department. Michelle works at the State Department.
I hit the gas and hustled home to Isabelle, to Kate, to the television and to the phone so that I could call Michelle to see if she was okay.

Before the blast, I was in the Jeep, listening to Morning Edition on the radio. I was returning to my home office. I had the windows down and saw everyone in the other cars with looks of disbelief in their faces. My face must have been similar. 

When the day began, I woke up in bed with my Ex, Michelle. She had let me spend the night because I had double-booked my pad and needed someplace to crash. She was sick so she didn't plan on going to work in the Library of the Department of State.

Upon Arrival at the Grotto on 9/11

Upon returning to the Grotto, my pad, I joined Kate and Isa on the blue Ikea loveseat. They were hunched over, squinting at the little Sony 19" TV with all their might. The room was dark. Kate told me my mom had called to tell me what was going on. When she called, Kate and Isa had turned on the TV. Neither of them watches. Only my obsessive NPR-listening kept me informed as returned from Michelle's.
It was really only then did I recognize what was going on in NYC. It was only then, as they alternated between live news feeds and the looping looping looping footage of the crash crash crash of the two planes into what knew as the twin towers, but now learned were called Tower One and Tower Two of the World Trade Center.

I had been in New York city just about a month previous. I had been staying in Brooklyn in Anne and Ian's apartment. While they were gone. When they returned, I commuted into the City with Anne. She works for Moody's. Ian works for the Port Authority. She worked right next to the WTC towers and he, Ian, worked in them.

We had walked from their gorgeous walkup apartment in Brooklyn to the Subway. It was only a short ride to the Subway right there at the WTC. I walked Anne to her building, gave her a hug and a kiss, and then headed uptown to the trains back to DC.

I wrote this first weblog entry the week before visiting Anne, Ian, Marlise, Minna, and Mark; I wrote this second weblog entry the week after.

Funny that. It bears no importance that I was at the towers a little over one month before the terrorist events of 9-11, but I hadn't realized it.

Collecting My Family on 9/11

When I realized the import of what was going on, I called Michelle Nolan, my recent Ex, and told her that I was jumping into the Jeep and dashing back over to Dupont so that I could collect her from her 10th floor condo, right up the street from the State Department and relatively close to the Executive Branch. And she lives in a Studio apartment, one wall of which is glass. And she lives with our dog Suzi.
So although she didn't want to come at first, I sped over there anyway. To collect her. To collect them. Big Little Erz and Little Little Erz.

There was a lot of traffic forming. There were the first signs of the military. I hustled up 13th, and then made it up to Florida and cut around above the city center and after some nasty jams, I made it in to Dupont and there was Miss Michelle and Miss Suzi, all packed up and ready to bail.

I got her in the car. As I said before, she was feeling sick anyway. She was looking kind of out of it; I knew I was kind of out of it. It didn't matter. When I need to perform, I always do, thank God.

As I recall, there were already Hummers at some of the corners downtown, so I avoided downtown again. I tried my best to do the circuit, but as I recall, I believe I tool Mass Ave mostly.

When we got into the Grotto -- Suzi, Kate, Michelle, Isa, and I -- I felt better. And by that time, Anita was back home and her crew were starting to drink some beers. Isa had made plans to bail town to the 'burbs to avoid the inevitable, I was blogging and sending emails on the kitchen table, Michelle and Kate were glued to the TV, and Suzi was just chillin'. She's good like that.

Of course, the towers fell. The fell and many people didn't get out. And there is something wrong when the rescuers need rescue.

By noon, Kate and I headed over to Al's to grab some 'za. 

And, then there was the plane, hijacked, and apparently on its way to the White House. And then there was the report of it going down in a field in Central Pennsylvania.

And the day passed.


I just drove out to Target on rt 1. The car's batts were acting funny, so I wanted to get a charge on, so I went to Target so that I could buy a can opener and some laundry detergernt and dishwashing machine liquid.

I didn't see the damage to the Pentagon. What side was it on? Anyway, aside from the a little more intensity with regards the police presence, all the roads are open and I could even travel up Independence back to the pad.

Its very weird to see it heal at least superficially so darn quickly. There are roads closed off, but I don't see the National Guard or anything.

Sep 11, 2016 09:35 AM