I arrived to work on September 11, 2001, it was the first day I'd been back since losing my Mom on August 26th, and though my boss suggested that 'getting back into my routine would be the best thing for me', I had other plans the second week I didn't return. We'd graciously been given Labor Day weekend to remove her belongings from the assisted living apartment she had inhabited for less than a year, and they HAD to have it rented out again at the beginning of the month, that was VERY important.. but? They'd give us til Sept 5th, and both my sister and I pondered their 'thoughtfulness' about the same way we mustered up our 'thankfulness' for the nice Ambulance service that told us our Mother owed a thousand dollars for not booking the ambulance prior to her surprise fatal heart attack 24 hours in advance, but that they'd give us til the end of that month to pay it.
That experience alone would be enough to put you on the offensive; Her best friend leaving a list of Christmas and Birthday gifts over the years that she would like returned probably destroyed what was left of our superficial smiles and passivity. One day past our Mom's funeral? We had nothing left in the way of mourning and apologies and good will. It was 'back to business' and Charlene and I were both 'done' mentally and physically, we were tired of telling people how sorry we were for their loss, we had work to do, bills to pay, and time to mourn properly would have to wait. Neither of us knew how long, or that a series of events were going to take place that would postpone our mourning for while, let alone confuse our mourning, increase our mourning, or catapult the both of us to a place where we were more lost and in shock than we were on the morning of August 26th that year.
Both of us had jobs that couldn't be performed by stand in or replacements, that we got the time off we did punctuated our thoughts during a time that we had little or no time to organize what we were doing or what came next in the process. Putting our to do list together involved a lot of tasks, none of which were personal in nature. So? In between packing boxes, soothing friends and relatives, and organizing a wake and funeral for our favorite person, every so often one of us would look at each other and laugh and say 'I can only imagine what my desk looks like right now'. There's never a good time for a tragedy. In the event you all ready have one to deal with? You start to get a mixture of feelings. "What's the worst that could happen now?' all the way to "Nothing could possibly shock me anymore these days". We'd all ready had offers on my Mother's car, lovingly referred to as 'the car'.. and when someone said <before we'd even put our Mother into the ground, mind you> 'I know somebody who wants to buy 'the car'. My sister and I dealt with this kind of behavior just as our Mom taught us, with laughter. We looked at each other and said 'Hmm, what do YOU want to do with 'the car'?'/'I don't know. What do YOU want to do with 'the car'?'/'I think we should turn 'the car' into 'a box', I don't want to ever see anyone else driving it, what do you think?'/'Ooo, I like that idea. Sorry, tell your friend 'the car' is not for sale, we're turning into 'a box'.' We may not agree on much; That was the easiest agreement we'd come to at the time.
By the time I returned to work I was resolved that work was probably the best thing for me, it was something I could control, I liked my cube, and I was not surprised to find two weeks worth of work piled all over my desk, untouched by anyone during the time I was gone. It's nice to be missed, it sucks to return to your desk to find that you have two weeks worth of work to catch up on. It was a good thing I had no one left to lose for the rest of the year <or so I thought> because it would take that long to get caught up, what a great 'gift' to return to. I courageously moved the files that were on my desk, my computer, my chair <REALLY? My chair?> and turned my computer on and plugged my headphones in. At the time? Howard Stern hadn't sold his soul to the devil for 80 million dollars and was merely entertaining rather than be the 'whatever the hell he turned into'. Sorry Howie, go to digital radio, but go without me. Where I come from? Radio is still free to listen to. On September 11th, Howard was on my headphones, for free, and making sure radio was devolving to levels that New York and Boston radio to this day has never recovered from... but I digress.
It should be no surprise that when I stood up from my chair and said 'A plane just flew into the the Trade Center', the first question was 'where did you hear that?' and less surprising would be the response of 'What WILL that Howard Stern guy say for attention next... it can't possibly be true.' A few minutes later when I said "It's happened again.. a plane flew into the second tower' the fact that I was freaking out stirred my boss to turn on the television, or search the web for confirmation. Getting a bunch of accountants to awaken from the number stupor we were always in is difficult. This did that. I started putting on my jacket.
My boss turned to me and said 'Where are you going?' and I replied 'Today is 'Anything can happen' Day obviously, and all I can see is the Prudential Building outside my window, and the only thing between me and the Prudential Building is a sheet of glass... so, I'm going home now before a plane flies into it'. A few people looked at me and said 'Good idea, and my boss said she agreed and that was that'. I went downstairs to the retail print store and saw that leaving and closing shop was all ready being organized and people had all ready left. We worked on Boylston Street <coincidentally VERY close to a certain marathon bombing, but? Also another story for another time> and I was lucky enough to live on Boylston Street, and though I'd always take the train home? THIS day would be unlike the rest of the days before it or after it. I WALKED home in a crowd of dazed people. I imagine it was the sort of daze, loss, and confusion that occurred when JFK was shot.
I bought a bottle of rum at the corner liquor store before it closed and walked into my apartment by 9:45 a.m. and was pouring two Rum and Cokes and my then partner heard me and got out of bed and said 'What do you think you're doing?'
I said 'Turn on the television. The entire world has changed forever.'