I was Oblivious, Where Were You?

Nine years ago I woke up early – way before tragedy altered everyone’s life – so I could go for a top-down drive. Surely you remember how gorgeous the weather was on the east coast that morning. About five hours after I left my place that morning, I had burned almost a whole tank of gas, and traced most of my favorite country roads.

For every day rides, the radio is pegged to NPR; when I go driving, however, the road gets a soundtrack. Lenny Kravitz, Ray Charles, Sinatra, Chuck Brown, & Jill Scott all kept me company that morning. A little after 11am, I pulled into a parking space right in front of my coffeeshop. Mack the Knife was still blaring from my speakers while I was singing at a volume way too high for my terrible voice.

It may read as too easy, too convenient, even revisionist, but when I looked at people crying, and the saw the faces of everyone in the room, my heart sank in a way that told me the world had changed forever.

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8 Responses to I was Oblivious, Where Were You?

  1. laloca says:

    i was at work; nearly the whole senior staff was on travel. my boss had just landed at logan. one of our lobbyists had her TV on; after the first plane hit, everyone gathered in the conference room.

    i grew up in a country with rampant terrorism; i knew in my bones there wouldn’t be just one plane. after the second hit, i told the HR director i was going home – i didn’t think it was safe to be four blocks from the white house.

    one of my colleagues – also a neighbor – was sitting in her office, frozen. she couldn’t get ahold of her husband, who had a meeting that morning in one of the trade center buildings. i got her out of her chair, grabbed her purse, and took her down to the street where we amazingly were able to hail a cab. we were in the cab when we got word of planes headed toward DC. everything was jumbled; no one really knew what was going on.

    i dropped my colleague off at her apartment where her sister was waiting, and then walked to mine; a friend who had been visiting and was scheduled to fly out that evening was in the kitchen, making breakfast. i turned on the tv, and we sat down to watch.

  2. Sylvia says:

    I was oblivious listening to some CD in the car on my way to the gym at my office building. As I was making the turn into the underground garage – there was Andrea Mitchell in her expensive car blocking the entrance and talking on her cell phone. I honked at her, urging her privileged ass out of my way. She was startled and turned to look at me. Her face seemed very apologetic, almost sad as she moved her car out of the way. She knew something I didn’t. Nine years later I still feel bad about that honk.

    Minutes later I was sitting alone in the TV lounge in the women’s locker room watching the plume of smoke on TV as Katie Couric’s voice told me some small plane accidentally crashed into the North Tower. I saw the second plane hit, and knew instantly it wasn’t an accident. For minutes I was unable to speak or yell as I tried to alert the showering, blow drying and dressing women. I stomped my feet and clapped my hands until I was joined by the women of Tenley Sport and Health.

    The rest of the day urging my team to go home to be with their families and offering refuge to those who thought they would be sitting ducks on the beltway is a total blur. We watched Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC in the command center. And waited for the big one to hit Washington.

  3. magnolia says:

    god, it was beautiful that day. i talked to my best friend in DC as the plane hit the pentagon. i heard it through the phone. we drove across virginia in a panic, trying to get away from hampton roads where we were in college, thinking that the atlantic fleet was the next to go. there were NO cops, obviously. when we finally got to the mountains, to my boyfriend’s school, we were greeted with the news that one of our friends had been sitting at his desk at cantor fitzgerald when the plane hit.

    the rest of that unbelievably beautiful day was a total blur. we were just numb. and i will never forget the color of that sky…

  4. Vie says:

    It was one week before my fifteenth birthday; I was in English class in Charlottesville, VA when a message came over the intercom that the Twin Towers had been struck by two planes. We kind of all looked around at each other, entirely unsure what to make of it. Someone knew they were in New York, but frankly, most of had no idea what was in those buildings, and no conception of what that could possibly mean. We were sophomores in high school, and though some of our parents worked in universities or even for the government in DC, we were not in a town that was saturated with constant news coverage, and none of us really had cell phones. We continued with class as normal.

    As I was walking in between classes, I noticed the front office was flooding with people, and I became nervous. In my next class, the teacher had a television turned to some news channel (MSNBC?). As soon as I saw what happened, I started crying. I knew that, like Pearl Harbor or Kennedy’s Assassination, this was an event that would change the course of the country and my generation, that it would haunt our memories. And I knew we would be going to war, and that it would be different than the ones we had been involved with over the 90s. At lunch, my friends and I held each other crying and discussing what had happened, scared and unsure of what was to come.

    The rest of the day was a blur; half of my teachers kept news coverage on, half kept calm and carried on. When I got home, the lights were off, the television was on, and my parents were glued to the news (something they never did, and rarely do now), with expressions of shock and horror on their faces. I joined them. We didn’t speak.

  5. Christina says:

    I was on 168th street on the east side at a doctor’s appointment in NYC. I heard the news form my doctor but did not understand the magnitude until I got to my office on 34th and 5th and saw tower one implode. the horror that I witness, the woman who feel to her knees will and the traffic that was at a standstill on 5th Avenue will always remain in my brain.

    then when I made it across the street to my office. I saw how it unfolded on the television.

    I was grateful that my father was at a family funeral that day…he worked in tower two.

  6. k8 says:

    I was in bed. And my best friend at the time, called and told me to wake up but not to turn on the TV until she got there. She knew my sister was in NYC and she knew I would have a catastrophic melt down. Thank God for friends.

  7. Grace says:

    I was on my way to school. My dad had just yelled at us to hurry up as he left to start the car. Then he came running back inside. “Turn on the tv.” The tone implied that I not ask questions. We watched as the second plane hit. There we stood for five minutes in silence. Then we got in the car and went on with our day.

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