My sleep was being interrupted by the obnoxious sound of the telephone ringing. My head was pounding. I was hungover. It was too early and the phone was too loud. I shook Sio.
“Who is it?”
Sio looked at the caller ID and grumbled: “It’s your sister.”
In slight outrage I declared “Oh this better be good!”
It better be good because my sister (and my mother and my other sister) all knew “the rule”.
“The rule” was that because both Sio and I worked late in the restaurant and in actuality because both Sio and I partied too much, there were no phone calls before noon.
It was way before noon! This before 9!
I picked up the phone with a very distinct: “What!”
“Are you in the city now?”
“No. I answered the phone didn’t I? Why?” with a distinct tone of sarcasm.
Sissy L was definitely annoying me. She had a way of doing that with early morning phone calls. As a matter of fact her early morning antics are why we had to invoke “the rule” in the first place.
“You’re not going to the city today.”
But there was alarm in Sissy L’s voice that immediately made me sit up.
“No, I don’t have class today. Why?”
Now Sissy L has always been up before the “ass crack” of dawn so she knew as soon as it happened…
“Something’s happening in New York. Turn on the TV”
Shaking Sio: “Get up! Turn on the TV. Something’s happened in the city”
“A plane. Something. Thank God you’re safe.”
“I’m fine. Is that the World Trade Center? Sio what’s going on?”
“A plane hit the World Trade Center.”
“I’ve got to go!”
I don’t think I even remembered that I had a hangover or about my rule. I knew I had to call my friend Corby. He worked in the World Trade Center and he was in the elevator in 1993 when it was attacked but really at this point we only thought this was an accident.
His wife answered.
“Ellen where’s Corby.”
“He’s home. He didn’t feel good this morning so he called in sick.”
“Can I talk to him?”
As soon as Corby got on the phone I started ribbing him.
“I’m telling you Michaela I felt sick to my stomach this morning.”
“Well, let me tell you something Mr. Corby, God must really love you! You escaped a bomb and now a plane. Find another place to work!”
We laughed. And then discussed how it must have been a small plane, some kind of accident and as we were talking, on the TV, almost in slow motion and really actually kinda fake looking, a plane cut through the top third of the 2nd tower.
We stopped talking.
It felt like time stopped ticking.
And then Corby said to me almost monotone:
“Michaela, what are we watching?”
And I replied in that same slow tone: “I have no idea. I’ll call you back.”
I never did call him back that day.
The only other call I made before we lost reception completely was to my mom to make sure she was safe.
To get her certification, my mom was taking a class in the lower 20’s in the city with a yoga master named Dharma (Dharma, I find his name ironic now). She was so proud that she could get in and out of city by herself (my first trip to the city for acting school, she was a nervous wreck). She was supposed to take the early morning class that day but at the last minute decide to do the afternoon class. She would have been far enough away to be safe but close enough to be caught in the chaos. Because on this day if she had gone in to the city, there would have been no getting out.
Sio and I ran out of my apartment and to the top of the hill that had a full view of the most magnificent skyline ever.
We lived close to the Lincoln Tunnel and for as far as the eye could see there were cars.
So many cars that you couldn’t tell if they were trying to get out of New York or if they were trying to get in.
We stood on the top of the hill and watched.
Others began to join us.
And we watched.
We watched as the towers fell.
Miles and miles of cars with their occupants sobbing and a vagabond group on top of a hill that looks outwards towards NYC with their head in their hands too stunned to comprehend what had just happened.
And although my friend Corby was safe, later that I day I found out one of my girlfriends from our shore house was not as fortunate. My friend, Cira Marie Patti, was on the 89th floor of the South Tower. The 2nd tower to be hit. She had time to call her mom and tell her she loved her. May she rest in peace. I am sure I can speak for all my girls from the shore house when I say Cira we love and miss you!
That is where I was 10 years ago.
Today in regards to what has happened, I haven’t move on. I have not gotten over it. I just haven’t. I’ve moved forward but I have not moved on. Thinking of that day. The sites. The sounds. The stories. And thinking of my friend, all brings me down to my knees with my head in my hands too stunned to comprehend.
It is just too hard.
Maybe someday I will move on. Just not today.
Today I got up and went to church with my sister. We sat in quiet remembrance.
Today I also started my 8th cycle in my journey to motherhood.
This morning I gave myself my 200 hundredth and something shot.
Today, on a day when I am mourning the loss of a dear friend, mourning the loss of a piece of my city and mourning the little piece of my heart that died that day I will be embarking on a journey of hope. I will be taking new steps towards my dream.
I am starting a new journey on a day that is forever burned into my memory and makes me weak from the enormity of the pain…May this journey ease that pain and someday in remembrance be a day filled with some kind of happiness that might possibly take a little dent out of the pain.
Today I do remember. I will not forget. I am not healed and I am not over it.
But today I am moving forward with a little glimmer of hope.