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Sunday, September 11, 2011

I can't believe it's been ten years.

These are the few things I remember from September 10-11, 2001:

I was working at Maroon's on 16th street (between 7th and 8th Ave.) on September 10th.  I was probably hung over from hanging out at Merchants the night before.  

My co-workers and I went back to Merchants after our shift.  We had some drinks and laughs.  I decided to stay at my girlfriend's apartment on 150th and Broadway that morning, September 11, 2001- 4:00 AM (or so).

I remember waking up to my girlfriend's roommate, knocking on her door, walking in and stating, "There was a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center or something".  She was sarcastic and in disbelief.  My girlfriend giggled a bit.  She's always had this innocent outlook on life.  Still does.  Deep in my gut; I knew it was serious.

My girlfriend and her roommate had just moved to New York City that summer.  There was no cable or t.v. reception.  I told her to turn on the radio.  My fear came true.  Something serious had happened. 

We walked outside.  An African-American gentleman in his late 60's by the name of "Red" told us, "I wouldn't go anywhere near downtown.  There's some serious shit in the air that'll kill you."  The government told us it was safe.  People are either dead or suffering from long term effects from that day.  Red was right.  He passed away that same year.  Red was a navy veteran.  He was always courteous to us.  

I don't remember what the cause of his death was, but that day was the last memory I have of him.

I remember people being so courteous.  I walked to the store to pick up some groceries.  Everyone was in a state of disbelief.

From the hilltop of Harlem, I could see the smoke.  I was living in Brooklyn with a roommate at the time.  I'm glad I decided to stay with my girl on September 10.  It was nearly impossible to cross the boroughs for 3 days.

My friends from L.A. were trying to call me.  I later got their messages.  My friend Michelle had left me a message.  We had known each other for some time, but we had not spoken in three years.  It was nice to hear her voice.

I remember reaching my Mom.  My dad, who lived across the river in Jersey, saw the towers fall.  He left the chaos and violence in his country for a better life in America.  He's still in disbelief.  

I went back to work two days later.  I remember everything below 14th street being closed.  Many customers would come in with empty faces, staring at their drinks.  It later dawned on me that many of our customers would never come back.

There was a point where south of 14th was finally opened.  My roommate and I wandered downtown, looking at all the "Missing" posters.  There was this plywood blockade across Manhattan.  I had a lot of Whiskey that night.  I stared at those posters, knowing that those souls had moved on.  I broke.  I cried to God, but I don't know what I believed in at that time.  

Two years later, my girlfriend and I had dinner in Brooklyn.  It was September 11th.  We walked by the Firehouse that lost over half their guys on that day.   I'm not sure, but I believe it has been closed since.  The Fireman we spoke to mentioned that their house had been on the chopping block.  The neighborhood protested the closing by chaining themselves to the front doors.  Passion lives!

We spoke for about 20 minutes.  There was this wooden sculpture of a firefighter kneeling that had been circulating in the city since 9/11.  The fireman at that house told us the story of how the artist didn't have a ride home back to Oregon.  Somehow people pulled together and made sure he arrived back home.

I really hope that the compassion and unity everyone felt after that day continues.  I felt as if it lasted a minute.  

I've since moved to Los Angeles.  Out here, unity appears to be a foreign concept.  I really hope that this 10 year memorial will allow everyone to realize how fleeting life can be.  I hope that we can learn to be more patient and compassionate.  

My prayers to all that suffered a loss on September 11, 2001.

God Bless this world.