I had woken up early to finish writing a paper on British colonial history, I always had the t.v turned onto the news. I had grown up with the news on constantly, it was comforting as I sat at my small table typing away, drinking coffee. I slipped out of the room, and came back, sat on my bed and sipped on my fresh cup of coffee. I was sitting in shock watching the smoke come out of the first tower. I knew deep down, it was not an accident, it just seemed to big to be an accident.
I sat glued to the t.v. trying to decipher what was going on, my Father once said “every act of violence acts in groups of 3”, it had been drilled into me. throughout my history courses, I remember always grouping acts in groups of 3, to see if he was correct. Watching live, I watched the footage of the newscaster on the ground, with the towers behind. I watched the live footage of the second plane hitting the tower, the newscaster looking up, and shouting expletives, his face shocked, the camera didn’t stay steady, and dropped. The Canadian news was shooting live, and non of the newscasters stayed composed, they were all swearing, Then everything went to commercial.
I sat, shocked, completely dazed. I turned the channel, no word on a 3rd act, and no new footage of the buildings. I went back to the Canadian news, there was no new news, it seemed everyone was scrambling. For the first time, Ottawa went silent. There was a helicopter circling above us. We lived 15 minutes from downtown, I knew the drill, something like this meant airspace would be shut down except for the airforce, and emergency landings. I heard jets screeching above, it sounded like we were preparing for war, it was eery.
I kept watching the news, the towers were smoking, then it dawned on me. I had 2 dear friends who worked in the financial district in NY. I knew they were either in one of the towers, or close to them. As I watched the towers come down, tears streamed down. I missed my Father. I knew if he were here, he could give me answers, give me solace.
I grabbed the phone, and began dialing for the first friend, first her work, then her cell. I left messages. Then I dialed the second friend. I felt sick. We had lived through 2 coup attempts together, they both survived bombs dropped close to their homes. They came to the U.S to get away from the violence that plagued them in Venezuela. One had lost everything when Chavez took her family business without warning.
My head was spinning. The phone began to ring upstairs, my Mother was checking in with old friends, and my Father’s old colleagues. Our house sounded like it did when we were in Caracas during a coup attempt.
I sat glued to the t.v. watching for anything, it just seemed odd. The telephone never left my side.
That night, I got a phone call from one friend. Her building was a block away from the towers. She was the one who convinced her colleagues to evacuate. She knew in her gut that it was not an accident, and wanted to run as far away from the buildings as possible. She was shattered. She had only made it 7 blocks from the buildings before they came down, she thought she was going to die. She lost it on the phone, crying hysterically. I stayed on the phone for 2 hours while she cried. I didn’t care if she didn’t say anything. She was a surviver.
When I finally got off the phone. I fell asleep with the phone in one hand, and the t.v on. At 3am, the phone rang. I answered it. Completely alert. It was my other friend. She had been on a business trip, was en route to N.Y. she was supposed to have a meeting in one of the towers with colleagues. She explained she had been sick, she took a gravol and woke up when they landed in Florida. She was sitting in the airport, scared, not sure if her team had died. She said the airport looked like a war zone, everyone was sleeping on the ground, all of the kiosks were open handing out food and water to everyone for free. She was terrified. She couldn’t get through to her family. I promised her I would try her family too, just to let them know she was all right. I finally had to call in a favour, and get someone from the Canadian Embassy to get a hold of her family. Her Mother was absolutely beside herself, she was relieved that her daughter was alive.
3 days later, my friend called from Florida. Half of her team had died. She was shattered. She still hadn’t left the airport.
I remember I called my friends every 2 weeks, just to check in. I knew they suffered from more than just grief, their PTSD gripped like nothing I had ever seen. Sometimes I just listened to crying, sometimes we laughed, and sometimes we just talked about clothes.