david asked me this question last night as we sat and watched the last portion of a documentary made on 09.11.01 and in the days immediately following. a young french filmmaker, jules naudet, and his brother, gédéon, had gone to new york to document the coming of age of rookie new york firefighter tony benetatos. jules was filming outside the firehouse when a plane flew low overhead. his camera captured the first plane hitting the north tower, and the focus of the documentary shifted dramatically.
i had spilled red punch on my white shirt as i sat in my cubicle at pil, so i decided to take a quick drive back to my parents’ house, where i was living, to change my shirt. as i approached the intersection of bryn mawr and kimball, i turned on the radio to wtmx. one of the morning-show hosts, eric ferguson, was telling of breaking news, saying things like, “it’s unclear right now as to what exactly has happened” and “this is terrible, absolutely terrible.” because i hadn’t heard what exactly had happened, i turned off the radio and ran into the house to change. when i got back into the car, eric was still talking and his co-host, kathy hart, was echoing his sentiments of disbelief. it was then that i heard them say a plane had hit one of the towers of the world trade center.
returning to the office, everyone had left their desks and found the nearest television. all eyes were locked on the events unfolding before us. co-workers with children living and working in new york city made fierce attempts to contact their loved ones. one of my colleagues knew her birthday would never again be the same.
as we sat and stared at the screen, we were shocked to see a second plane hit. it is an image that will never leave my brain. how any of us got any work done that afternoon—and why we weren’t told to go home—is beyond me. driving home that evening, the absence of planes in the sky was eery.