Who would have thought that ten years ago I would be sitting here writing an article about how terrorism has hit my life at home.
Living on Long Island I was driving to work that Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. It was a beautiful day out and I remember noting in my mind how perfect the weather was. My NPR station was playing on my radio. Almost to work I heard of the first plane hitting the tower.
We were in a much different world than today. We were lured into a sense of security. Terrorists did not attack us in major ways. The largest attempts we saw were in Oklahoma and the first, much smaller attempt on the twin towers. Hearing of the plane I immediately thought that it must be an inexperienced pilot in a small personal plane flying.
I arrived to work. We did not have a radio in our design studio. For some reason I brought mine in, which I only did about 4 times a year, to listen to some music. In the instant that I turned on the radio the world had changed. We were at war and it was in my own back yard. The second plane hit and the towers fell as we huddled by the radio listening in disbelief. Interior Designing did not seem like a priority. I did not realize how much my life was to be changed.
I ran home to pick up my then young child from school. As we heard about the attacks in DC and Pennsylvania we had no idea as to what was to be next. Parents wanted to be with their children. Who knew if this was just going to be the beginning? Living in the United States we were under the illusion that we were pretty much untouchable. The perception that we would always be safe was no longer realistic. War had come to our shores.
That afternoon I went down to sit at our town beach, along with my community. Even on the north Shore of Nassau County we could see the smoke as it rose from ground zero creating an evil shadow of Bin Laden’s face. The smoke became a daily reminder for us as our local volunteers took turns to go perform their help assisting at ground zero. We got used to the sound of fighter jets circling above our quiet town.
Our village came together holding candlelight vigils and collecting items to donate to the rescuers. It hit home knowing that I was just listening to music at a celebration the Sunday before with a friend who was now gone.
9/11 changed my future. 911 were no longer just digits dialed for an emergency. 9/11 was now an actual day that we would never forget. That was the week that I had placed my first, and only, ad for my design services in the local Pennysaver. I am always asked why I do not advertise. I feel that 9/11 told me that it was not the route for me to take and have not been able to bring myself to advertise my services in that way since. Although life would have to go on and making a living was still important, Interior Designing their space did not seem like it should be at the top of anyone’s list. I thought of ways that I could donate my services. Perhaps arrange a benefit. I sat and reflected by writing poetry.
As time went on, the smoke started to subside. We tried to normalize but life would never be, so-called, normal again. Our police and federal enforcement agencies were unsure of how to protect such a dense population as metro New York. Every action seemed like an experiment. People were afraid to work in the city. I had to drive into New York City one day for a job. Traffic was completely stopped on the expressway. They were stopping every truck and van at the bridges in fear of explosives, backing up every road for hours. Twenty five miles turned into a seven hour trip. We became a nation learning how to protect and exist by trial and error.
I happened to be in Manhattan the day in 2006 that Cory Lidle hit his plane into a building. I was sitting in a taxi thinking, not again, I must get out of the city. I rushed to the train when I heard that it was an accident and not an attack. Whenever we hear of a plane crash, or feel a rumble of any kind, we immediately think terrorism has struck again. Naivety was replaced with fear and a rush to conclusions in order to protect ourselves.
Again I was impacted by 9/11 when I was hired by a widow of a firefighter lost that fateful day. She had two young sons. We were both single women. I divorced by choice and she widowed. She could not bring herself to stay in her bedroom but also could not give up the home that she had shared with the man she loved. I helped her by drawing plans to redesign the house to make her family comfortable but also to pay homage to her lost mate. She was not ready to move on but needed to start. I could now use my services to provide comfort and bring some beauty and happiness into a life that was broken. Every 9/11 I think about her family.
9/11 taught me that life is fleeting. We must appreciate different ethnicities. I am aware of bringing traditions and Feng Shui into my designing as a direct result of 9/11. Life is different than it was ten years ago. My designs reflect the importance of saving our environment while bringing beauty to the surroundings.
Before 9/11 I wrote poetry and personal journals as a hobby. If it were not for 9/11 I might not have been brave enough to express myself to the masses as a writer. Most important is that 9/11 has taught me to “never be afraid to dance”. Never be anxious to try new things. Life is but a brief moment and we need to appreciate every second.
As we pay our respects on this the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I wish only peace and happiness for our earth.
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