Blue. Red. Yellow. Gray. White. Black
The sky was blue. It was the kind of crisp, clear, blue-skied September morning that makes you want to get out of bed and start your day. We still talk about that blue sky sometimes--on certain Tuesday mornings when the air is just right and the sky reaches that perfect shade of cerulean, it brings back the memory of that day. I was underground when the first plane hit. On the A train on my way to work in Brooklyn. We probably rumbled along right beneath the twin towers, oblivious to what was happening on the streets above us at 8:46 am.
My sweater was red. Wrapped around the shoulders of a black and white dress that I had thrown on that morning as if it were any other day. After watching the first tower collapse on the television in my office, I walked out to the promenade on the Brooklyn waterfront known for its spectacular views of downtown Manhattan.
Their bodies were white. People streaming across the Brooklyn Bridge, trying to get away from Manhattan were covered in soot and ash. They looked stunned, and scared. I worried about friends who worked in and around the towers. The rest is a blur of chaos, confusion, sadness, and fear.
I remember the subway the next day--it was unusually and stunningly quiet. Heads buried in newspapers, the horror of the previous day's events plastered on every front page. No one said a word as reality began to set in. The streets were splashed with flyers. Fences, lampposts, parking meters, building facades all covered with tape and paper, the faces of the missing staring out at me everyone I went.
The days and weeks that followed were black with sadness. We worked 15+ hour days for months at the city's disaster response center. One broken family after another coming in to report the missing, tell their story, apply for assistance. We did everything we could; often times it wasn't enough. The response lasted several years and it was the most difficult but rewarding work I'll ever do.
After all the tears and despair, the colors slowly started to return to normal in our lives and in our great city. It's sometimes hard to believe that I met my husband during that time after 9/11 as we worked side by side in the relief effort. How such happiness could come from such tragedy is difficult for me to comprehend to this day. But we move forward accepting our fate--and hope that in celebrating those who died, we can also celebrate life.
These are just fragments of my 9/11 story--the words that I am able to get down. The events and emotions of those months and years stay with me always; words never seeming adequate to describe them. I have never written about it before, and I thank you for sharing this small part of it with me.
I didn't take one photo during that time. Not a single image taken by me exists to illustrate the ups and downs of those unimaginable days that followed 9/11. Sometimes I wish I had a few photos to document that unbearable but incredible time in my life, but most times I am glad not to have a physical reminder and I am satisfied with the pictures and memories etched forever in my mind.