Making it Through the Day

Yesterday, I decided to get back on track. Today is September 11th.

The above photo is from July 4th, 1976. I was born March 10th, 1976. I will soon be 40 years old. The towers never were. I love that photo. It’s surreal. I showed it to my mom who was mad that she never knew about a beach by the Towers. She lamented that she would have gone to this beach instead of trucking out to Brighton Beach. I told her that when I first saw the photo, I imagined she was the woman and the man was her best friend Bill – who lived near the towers before dying from AIDS when I was in high school. She said she wished that were true.

On September 11th, 2001, I lived in England. My aunt called to tell me that a plane had crashed into the WTC but I blew her off. A plane crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945. I imagined this was similar, a small plane – an accident. I was wrong.

On September 11th 2001, my high school friend Aaron Horwitz died at One World Trade Center. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. I grew up on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue, he lived on 14th and Seventh. We would often make the trip down to Tribeca together our Junior and Senior years of high school. We weren’t close – I am by no means trying to make more of our friendship than there was. We did share a limousine on prom night. My friend Denielle wasn’t going to go but he insisted that she couldn’t miss such an important milestone of American life. When we were driving up to the after-party in Westchester, Denielle and I realised that while we had remembered clothes to change in to, we didn’t have appropriate shoes. Aaron suggested that he and my date Owen lend us their shoes to wear in to the gas station restroom.

On September 11th, 2001, my friend Paul Ambrose was on the plane that flew in to the Pentagon. I knew Paul when I was in college and he was doing his residency. When he died, he was engaged and working as a family doctor in Arlington, VA. My aunt told me that I wasn’t present on that day because “God had bigger plans for me.” I imagine he had bigger plans for Paul.

On September 11th, 2001, my mom’s friend Michael Baksh died. Michael was a dad. Michael was going to his first day at a new job. He had spoken with my mom just the week before about how excited he was and how he would miss chatting with her but knew this change was the right thing for his family. Those are the stories that hurt me the most. The people who were starting something new. Or the people at Windows on the World who had traded a shift and weren’t supposed to be there that morning.

My mom took me to Windows on the World for my eighth birthday. When the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink, I asked for a Manhattan. With a straight face, he asked “sweet or dry?”

I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

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