Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 - Where were you?

Ten years on, I think just about everybody can remember exactly where they were when the news broke. Here’s my account:

I was working one of my first shifts at Starbucks in Kensington, after a long summer in Sweden. My friend, fellow Swede, LN got a call from her boyfriend Chris, who basically said, “Get to the nearest TV as soon as possible”. With no more information than that, LN and I continued working, not realising what was going on, on the other side of the world. Half an hour later, Chris called again and insisted that LN hurry to the Irish pub on the corner to watch the TV.

LN briefly left the shop and came back a whiter shade of pale. She told me, the Twin Towers had collapsed to the ground. At that moment, a million thoughts went through my mind, including; were the Twin Towers really what I thought they were, because surely such buildings couldn’t just come down? Before I got the chance to ask LN anything else, the front doors banged open and in true dramatic all-eyes-on-me style, that only an American could master, a woman stood in the entrance, arms and hands wide open as she exclaimed “The World Trade Center has just gone down!!!”

Kensington, and were our Starbucks was located, is a very highly American populated area, which unfortunately for me meant, we were too busy for the next 90 minutes for me to go and get a visual of what was actually happening. One person that I came across that day, has stuck in my mind ever since. It was a petite American woman in her mid-thirties. She came in, visibly shaken, lost and on the verge of tears. She almost whispered to us “Give me the strongest coffee you have, please”. LN and I looked at each other, and as she got her coffee, we couldn’t help but ask, “Are you ok?”

“My father works in the first building that went down. I don’t know whether he’s ok or not. He’s not answering his phone. I can’t get through on the netw...” She couldn’t continue, emotions took over her voice. Naturally, her triple shot Americano was on the house, she thanked us and left. To this day, I’ve wondered whether she would be one of the lucky ones, whose father, perhaps, was late for work or on sick leave that day.

Soon after, I headed to Victoria Station on the Tube. In the less than 10 minutes it took me to get there, rumours had started spreading, that the City (banking and financial centre of London) was being evacuated, London Bridge and Victoria stations were the next targets of this terrorist attack. I could not believe my eyes as I got out of the station, people were running around like headless chickens. The bus I’d usually take was full to the brim; nobody dared get in the Underground, in case that too would be the next target.

Once home, J Afua, Efua D and I spent the next 7 hours watching the news-clips, over and over again. Somehow, no matter how many times we watched it, it never seemed to look more real, it looked like a movie scene or a bad, bad dream. Half way through the evening, rumours started circling that MI5, a 5 minute walk from us, was also a potential target. Needless to say, it was with a very heavy heart and worried soul we all went to sleep that night, somehow hoping a night’s sleep would erase it all away.

That’s my recount of September 11th. Little did I know I end up meeting and marrying a man who was born on that date. So for the past years, and today as well, 9/11 has been a day of happiness and celebration as we celebrate Virgo’s birthday. I’m glad we have something positive to think and talk about on a day like this. And of course I’d also like to wish M in Gothenburg a happy 2nd birthday!

How do you remember your 9/11?


Pearlsa said...

I was on the phone with my sister we were both at work in the Washington DC Metro Area.

Anonymous said...

I was home in Accra and the footage of the towers aflame seemed like a badly shot movie until I realized it was all real.

Today working in NYC and with Ground Zero just outside my office window, it could not be more real.

God bless and keep all those who were directly ffected.

Raine said...

I was a junior in HS. I had just gotten to my art class and the principal announced on the PA system about 2 minutes after the last bell that a plane had crashed into the WTC. I didn't understand the magnitude of the announcement at the time because in Florida, we had had a string of small planes crashing about 2 weeks prior, so my initial thought was "oh boy, another cessna plane crash". I kind of brushed it off, and my teacher did too, because she refused to let us watch tv and told us we needed to focus on our projects, which I agreed with at the time. It wasn't until after art class when I saw people freaking out and the line outside of the administration office of people waiting to use the land phone (not everyone had a cell phone at that time, and besides, most lines to NY and DC were down anyway) when I knew that this was something more than a cessna plane crash. After my art class though, everything was a daze, because we watched TV pretty much the whole day. I remember a discussion we had with my US history teacher, he was ready to go to war after it was clear that they were terrorist attacks.

Now that I work in DC, and pass through Union Station each day which happens to be a stone's throw away from the US Capitol, I try to live my life as normal as possible, but I do worry at times when I see the heightened security all around town and when I heard the reports of the possible follow up attacks on Thursday, I took the safe route and worked from home...

Omo Oba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Omo Oba said...

hm, well written, my dear. Thanks for the memories. Some of the things we take for granted when we call loved ones and hear their voices at the end of the phone. I remember being in Lagos at the time, running around the house as a child with my siblings and neighbors. We saw clips of the towers briefly and we all dismissed it as a movie..but could not understand why it was on the News channel. It was not until my parents got back to explain things to us that we understood the gravity of the situation. Lets live our lives, thankful for each day. Happy birthday to your husband.

Maya Mame said...

Thank you all for your stories, it is so interesting to read what everyone else was up to. The magnitude of what happened is shown in the fact that we remember it all in minute detail ten years on!

Thank you also for your well wishes Omo Oba!


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