Some reflections on September 11:
Many people will mention the crisp blue sky on the morning of September 11, but I will always remember the erie ominous sky the night before. That evening I was on a run on the National Mall and as I headed back to my home behind the US Capitol, I was stopped in my tracks by the sky behind the capital. It was the color of a bad bruise with clouds swirling high above. It didn't look like any thunderstorm approaching that I had every seen, and I'd seen many growing up in the Midwest. The title of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes came to my mind. I would repeat those words in my head the rest of the way home.
When the first plane struck the trade towers, I was making a promotion case for one of my employees to a board of Booz Allen partners. I had been asked to give my presentation earlier than my original slot at 9:30 a.m. because my colleague Geep Fisher was tied up at his early morning meeting at the Pentagon. He would die an hour later when Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
I would not shed one tear for many months after 9/11. I was sad, I was scared, and I was in shock, but I did not cry. Months later I would be reading Maira Kalman's Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey to my four-year old son before bedtime. Halfway through the book when I reached the line, "Many lives were lost" I broke down. I would get it together enough to tuck him in, and then I cried myself to sleep that night. I still can't read that line in the book without crying.
I live in Philadelphia now because of 9/11. There were dramatic changes to my Capitol Hill Neighborhood with checkpoints and restrictions to the Capitol Hill grounds. We would normalize these new changes and try to carry on like before, but I couldn't shake the feeling that we were living within the red and white circles of a target. After an anthrax threat cleared my office at Metro Center and my son's school had the fourth lock down of the year when a small plane entered the Capitol's air zone, I made up my mind we had to leave. It would take some time to convince my husband, but a year later we'd be living in Philadelphia.
Before these planes crashed into buildings making 9/11 a day of remembrance, the day had always been circled on my calendar. It's my oldest friend's birthday. She and I were the youngest of all the kids on our block. With my February birthday, I had six months on her. After my birthday I would gloat that she was now the youngest kid on the block. September 11 was the day each year that she would catch up to me. I still prefer to remember today as the day a wonderful friend and human being was born.