Ten years ago today I was awoken by the sound of a phone ringing, it was my friend Claire’s Mum on the line, she told us the awful news that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. She was ringing from Rochdale whilst we were in Claire’s room at the Country Club in NY that me and my friend Sara had worked at together with Claire the previous year. Sara and I had been in Manhattan up until September 10th then headed to stay with Claire that evening with the intention of playing tourists the next day at the Twin Towers observatory, situated on the 110th floor in tower two. We’d planned on buying tickets to see Jamiroquai on September 10th in Manhattan but for one reason or another never bought them, we planned on staying in the city that night but since Claire didn’t finish work until 8 it made sense to stay with her in Queens and jump on the Long Island Rail Road in to the City in the morning. I’d told my friends and family we were heading into the city first thing and would be heading straight to the Twin Towers, we of course never got there.
Watching the scenes unfold simultaneously on TV and right in front of our eyes from the roof terrace were terrifying and completely heartbreaking. I couldn’t help thinking of the lovely little man who’d worked the lift the last time I’d been, he was so cheerful and friendly, and my friend Claire telling us about how she’d been refused entry to the club ‘The Windows of The World’ only the week before because she’d forgotten her passport. The moment the first tower fell is forever etched in my memory, I could not believe what was happening and broke down in disbelief, I remember putting my hands over my face and telling myself it had been bombed, I couldn’t believe towers so strong which stood so proud could simply crumble. None of us could make sense of what was happening, we were convinced when the first plane hit it was a terrible accident, it soon became apparent that there was nothing accidental about that day.
I’m so thankful we never actually did those things we’d planned to do on September 10th, call it bad organisation, fate or someone watching over us, we never made it into the city that day. For those people who did, my heart goes out to them, their friends and families, I can’t begin to imagine how you would move on from such an awful tragedy but know the strength and resilience of man is an amazing thing. We all made plans to go and give blood as soon as possible but it quickly became clear that no blood was needed with so few survivors. The smoke from the remains of the towers could be seen for days and the skyline looked so wrong without the iconic towers.
I’ve been back to New York several times since, it’s a place I love and will always mean more than a holiday destination to me. I’ve never been to Ground Zero, I never would go, nor do I like to watch programmes about 9/11 on TV. That day created a unique bond between me, Claire and Sara, we live in different parts of the country now and may not see each other as often as we’d like but 9/11 cemented our friendship which will continue for life. I still have the postcards I’d written with pictures of the Twin Towers on that never got sent and the New York post from September 12th, with the now sadly true headline ‘It’s WAR!’ I’m not sure why I keep them but I just can’t bear to throw them away.
The picture below was taken by my friend Claire from the 10th hole on the golf course where we worked, it’s calm, peaceful yet so very poignant. No matter what we believe, which religion we follow, or values we chose to live our lives by I really hope we never see such an awful and truly tragic event ever again.
RIP all those killed in the terror attacks on September 11th and throughout the world ever since.