I remember the night of September 10th, 2001 vividly. It was the Giants season opener and they were on Monday Night Football facing the Broncos. The Giants had been blown out of the Super Bowl seven months before and this would be a good indicator of the season ahead. I don’t remember the final score, but I remember they got killed.
As I drove to work that next morning, I kept replaying that game in my mind. How could they look that bad? It was a HUGE deal to me. I got pulled into the parking lot at 8:57am. I remember the time for some reason and I remember two guards in the lobby of my building making some comments about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I remember my blackberry buzzed with an email from CNN about the crash as I went up in the elevator.
There are some crystal clear moments from later on. A panicked phone call from a family member to locate my wife. A phone call with the guy on the other side of this blog to suggest he leave the John Hancock Tower in Boston. Lots of emails from CNN reporting crazy things, bombs exploding on the National Mall, fighter planes being scrambled. Without a TV and unable to get radio reception, my colleagues and I were at the mercy of the internet to provide us with details of what was going on and the internet in 2001 wasn’t what it is today. My office was underneath one of the main flight approaches to Logan Airport and I remember looking out my window later that day and being stunned that the usual parade of planes coming in to land was missing.
My wife and I drove down to New York City that Friday. I sent an email to my friends and family detailing that experience and here is a portion of what I wrote.
The next day we went down to Union Square to see the memorial. Words cannot describe the sadness of the scene. One man was handing out flyers with a picture of his daughter asking for any information about her whereabouts. People were huddled around impromptu memorials, crying, hugging, just trying to cope with the entire scene.
As sad as the sights of the weekend were I was struck by a real change in the way people interacted. There was tremendous civility and beneath the grief, you could sense a grim resolve to make things right. I looked at the flag of New York State flying at half mast. I was struck by the symbols on it, Justice and Liberty and the motto- Excelsior, how appropriate.
The following weekend my wife and I flew to Baltimore to attend a Yankees-Orioles game. The thing that struck me was all the people standing outside Camden Yards with signs of love and support for New York. There were Baltimore firefighters collecting money and supplies to support their brothers in New York. People came up to us and asked us if we were from New York and hugged us when we told them we were both from there. I remember the Yankees lost and I remember not really caring.
And that was the mode I slipped into for a long time. The 2001 World Series would have probably destroyed me if it had happened before that awful day, but I remember standing in my kitchen in Boston as Arizona scored that final run and just not feeling a thing.
But at some point, the games started to matter a little bit again. And then, they started to matter more. I remember the joy of Aaron Boone and the absolute agony of Games 4-7 in 2004. I started yelling at the TV again and I started replaying the games in my head again. I was back.
At 3:35 today the Yankees will try and break a four-game losing streak and at 4pm the Giants open their season. I will be frantically flipping back and forth between the two events, trying to take it all in and yelling at the TV- I will be fully invested. And around 7:30, I will get up, go to my window. stare at two enormous beacons of light in the sky and remember a terrible day that I will never forget.