My first "I remember where I was" moment occurred when the Challenger exploded just after take-off. It was January 1986. A nor'easter was blowing into Massachusetts and my school closed early to make sure everyone got home safely. A bunch of us rented some movies and headed to my friend, Joe's house to watch. One movie was Thief of Hearts. I can't remember the other one.
My friend Michele called her father to tell him where she was. I can remember her saying, 'What?!" and to us, "the shuttle exploded! Turn on the TV!"
There are others now. But nine years ago,
I was sitting in my office in Andover and Andy called me when he got into his office in Cambridge. He commented he'd just heard on the radio that someone had just flown into the World Trade Center. We both thought it was some poor idiot in a Cesna. We both thought it was an accident. We hung up and I ambled into my boss, Lee's office and told her. She tried to get onto CNN.com and couldn't. Then another co-worker ran in to say a second plane had just hit the other tower.
Not an accident. An attack.
We were in a new building and didn't have a TV so all over, small groups of people gathered around small images on computer monitors. Every time someone managed to get some news, it spread as horrible rumors through the office. As we learned about Flight 93, my friend, June got a panicked, crying call from her college-aged son. His dad was flying back from PA today. Had she heard from him? She had not but later learned, thank God, he was not aboard that flight.
Finally, Lee and I left the building to run to a local Best Buy to get a TV. Going home would take too long. It was in Lee's Jeep that we heard that the first tower had fallen. We saw the second tower fall standing among strangers in front of a big-screen TV in Best Buy.
We spent a longer while at work, eventually leaving to watch the horror unfold from the comfort of our own homes. There, I pleaded with Andy to leave the job he had just started a few weeks before. He worked in Kendall Square, where MIT is located. I was sure if there were more attacks "they" would target the academic centers soon.
He didn't leave until 5:00 and was home in record time. No one was on the roads. He found me in front of the TV exactly where I had landed when I arrived home hours before. We watched more. We headed to his mom's to wish her a happy birthday - yeah, 9/11 bummer. More TV, bed, God-Bless-America-sex, sleep.
In the morning, we woke up back to the bad dream that was our new reality.
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