September 11th Sky
This morning I woke up to this stunning view outside my apartment window. Initially, I took this picture to show off the new view from my newly-minted “steps from the Boardwalk” apartment. But then I thought “Wow, does this ever look like a September 11th sky.” And then it hit me. Today is indeed the 9th anniversary of “that day” that we all remember so vividly. The sky then looked like it did this morning. Do you remember?
Like everyone, I have my own 9/11 story. That day I was giving a Geography in-service to Newfoundland teachers at The Airport Hotel just outside St. John’s. I remember vividly waking to a stunningly clear morning, already nervous about my day ahead (while I’ve gotten used to public speaking, it still makes me slightly queasy…). During the early part of the in-service we started to hear plane after plane land on the tarmac behind the hotel. Unusual activity for St. John’s Airport mid-morning. We all went out to investigate and were shocked to see a tarmac littered with commercial planes. Our group went back inside and found a television set and spent the rest of the morning watching in horror as we witnessed people jumping from the Twin Towers and then the towers themselves fell. One then the other. Anyone watching on that day would agree that what we were witnessing was surreal, almost like watching a movie. This could not be happening. But it was. Later that morning our hotel was evacuated by firefighters as one of the planes backing onto the hotel was suspected to hold hijackers. We all fled, some to their homes and the rest to our hotels down on the waterfront.
I spent the rest of that day wandering the streets along St. John’s harbour in a bit of a fog and very worried about our future. I missed my family back home and wanted desperately to get back there. I spent the evening at a lovely local restaurant on the harbour called Bruno’s, eating and drinking with the owners. A month later on another visit to St. John’s for a different project I went back to Bruno’s and was instantly welcomed by name and with open arms. Without knowing it, we had become family on September 11th. And we did continue our in-service the next day. We were a solemn crowd of educators but my week was brightened by one local teacher who remembered I was far from home and baked me a wonderful dessert to help sustain me during my unexpected lengthy stay.
I did eventually make it home at the end of the week after many cancelled flights and false starts. On each anniversary of this date I find myself looking to the skies, remembering, and giving a whispered thank you for the kind treatment I received during a week when I desperately needed to be home.
Where were you on September 11, 2001?