Growing up, New York was a place in the movies for me. It was the backdrop for my favorite stories. The setting. The location. A fairytale.
In the early 2000's, one of my gigs was writing for a music magazine that focused on the southern California music scene. The night of September 10th, I left one of my jobs to hang with the editor and art director of the magazine. We drank obscene amounts of Bicardi and stayed up to watch the sunrise, chain smoking and listening to all the good local bands. Three carefree friends working and laughing the night away to meet a deadline. We ate ribs for breakfast. We didn't watch TV.
California was a quiet place as I drove home in the early hours and I was still innocent from the news. I figured I would slip into my room before my parents even knew I wasn't home the night before. Before I could make it through the front door, my mother came running to my truck, "The world is on fire..."
I think she meant to say World Trade Center, but she was panicked and scared. We all knew who did it. We all knew what was to come. We watched all the stories on TV then, and we do now. We watched it fall. We watched them die.
I stayed glued to the television all morning and again for the next few days. It was a comfortable place to be when things didn't make sense. Time passed and the ripples of that day ran through my life for a few years. I dated a guy from Brooklyn who was in Tower 2 when it was hit. My many military friends who served 3 and 4 tours fighting a war declared shortly after The United States was attacked. A few years later I found myself on a plane headed to NY.
I moved to NYC when I was 26 with two suitcases of clothes, my camera, and not a damn thing else. Right from my apartment I heard the bell ring to mark the time that the first plane hit the t. That one sound puts a stillness in my heart like nothing else.
On September 10, 2001, the last night of the world I grew up in before we were attacked, mothers kissed their children goodnight for the last time. Husbands and wives fought for the last time. Brothers and sisters shared jokes for the last time. A first date, became the last date. The people in lower Manhattan turned their lights off and slept soundly. For the last time.