September 11 was something that affected me, even though I didn’t know anyone personally who had been in New York City at the time. I was not yet a Christian, I was into clubbing and I worked for a community newspaper in the northern part of Los Angeles County. The Sunday before the attacks, a friend called and we both began talking about visiting New York in the next few months. I remarked, “We’ll get to see the World Trade Center,”
“…Okay…” she said, perplexed at my statement. She started talking about Italian men and I felt embarassed that I had revealed an interest of wanting to see the Twin Towers.
On that fateful date — Sept. 11 — I was finishing up a workout at the gym before going to work when it all went down. We watched the twin towers engulfed in flames on televisions suspended over the main gym room. We heard reports of missing planes and I began to wonder if the Rapture had happened. I got dressed for work and when I came out, another woman grabbed me in panic and pulled me toward the television. We watched one of the towers collapse live and I remember thinking “There must be thousands of people in there.” The most scary moment was vivid image from CNN — New York skyline engulfed in smoke backdropped against a crystal blue sky, a panicked announcer stating that the Pentagon had been attacked and emergancy blotters traveling across the bottom of the screen. I felt as if I were in World War II Europe hearing reports that the Germans were attacking. I wondered if this was the horror they must have felt. It was that that moment I was terrified.
I made a call to my parents and told them of what was happening, “Turn on the news the World Trade Center collapsed!” I drove to work, knowing that, as a reporter, I had a long day ahead of me because of what was happening. When something like this happens, and your in the news, there’s no rest. I drove, anticipating what I would be doing once I got there. I worked in the Antelope Valley — a forty minute drive from Los Angeles proper — so I sailed all the way there. The sun shone brightly, not a cloud was in the sky, but the radio broadcast revealed the hell that was transpiring; planes missing and one that was reported to have crashed in Pennsylvania. I knew it was terrorist. I knew when I saw the twin towers on fire, but I also feared the Rapture had happened and I’d been left behind. When I got to work, I asked if there was anyone there who was a christian, and when two colleagues responded “Yes,” I said, “Good! the Rapture didn’t happen.” My editor had to gather his thoughts before he met with us so I sat at my desk, tense, wondering, what was gong to happen next? What angle would he want me to cover? A family in Lancaster (california) with an uncle in New York maybe? Calls to local government?
My editor came in and asked me to work as the floating reporter. This is someone who covers the community’s normal news while the other reporters are working on the big story. I wans disappointed, and angry! This was the biggest story, and I don’t have a piece of it?
Fortunately, I ended up covering a story about prayer vigils being scheduled that day, and that lead to several stories I covered about Sept. 11 from a local angle. As it was we all put in some overtime, and we were watching the TV in our newsroom as the planes crashing into the Twin Towers was played incessantly for hours on end. My graduate class — scheduled for that evening — was cancelled because all of the universities closed down in the state of California, and one of my editors was stuck in Hawaii for three days after Bush grounded the airplanes.
Of all the places to be stuck, Hawaii’s pretty ideal.
I didn’t know anyone personally who was there, though I knew people who worked for companies that had employees lost in the attacks, or later on I’d meet people who were there or knew people who were. It’s strange how something that could happen on the other side of the country could have an impact, but in this case, maybe it’s not so strange. Television helped Sept. 11 to be real to us, almost in our own backyard, and it was more of an impact for those of us who weren’t directly affected. For three weeks after Sept. 11 things were in a daze, I was numb. I worked and worked out and went to school like always but it was mechanical. When numbness wore off, depression and anxiety set in. In the newsroom, we made some jokes about the anthrax scare (one reporter empty Sweet N Low into an envelope and put it on another reporter’s desk for fun). Another reporter quit his job and joined the Navy.
I had some scary dreams about the world being attaced. There was one vivid dream where I was running through the street through the remains of a plane crash. I saw the propeller on fire in plummet into a house, I saw bits and pieces of airplanes seats and metal strewn about, and honey, I could actually smell the jet fuel in this dream, and yes, the plane was from United Airlines. This dream is still vivid and is an emblem of the uncertainty of that year. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who was this nervous afterword, they just didn’t realize it, but for me, I was able to write about it through poetry and a novel that is in the works.
Nearly five years later and it still seems like it just happened. Since then, I’ve given myself to Jesus Christ and I am still a reporter working for another newspaper. I believe Sept. 11 was a threshold — we crossed a line that is inching us closer to the fullfillment of prophecy, even more so than before. It is a day we must not forget — especially in light of those who died and who tried to fight (Flight 93) but we also must realize that life is short, and that these are the days we must repent and turn to Jesus Christ….
And one more note: My friend and I never did get to New York, and I never did get to see those beloved Twin Towers.