I was in my office, a steaming cup of coffee warming my hands. The background noise was National Public Radio's morning news, as it was every day. My desk faced the windows. It was a bright blue day.
I'd been chatting with one of my staff, a friend, who had just disappeared from my doorway. I turned back to something on my computer. I was wearing black pants and a blue blouse; an odd thing to remember.
My phone rang, it was my mother. She said I needed to find a TV right away. They were showing a plane flying into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.
a small plane? like a little private jet?
no, a commercial airliner.
oh my God, are you sure? it has to be an accident... it's a horrible accident. but wait, how could that be an accident? it can't be an accident.
My friend reappeared in my doorway.
have you heard?
News came of the second plane. Then another one. Then another one. With each attack a low level panic grew. How many cities? How long will this go on? Has a war started on our soil? Will other forms of attack be unleashed in the next hours and days - chemicals, bombs, violent groups of men (who?) storming into our cities to do - what exactly?
New York City. Washington, DC. - oh God those people...
Nashville? Surely not a priority target, I said to myself. We are safe here?
As that longest of days wore on, I picked up the phone a few times to call my daughter's school but didn't. They would call me if they were sending children home. I'm sure it's fine. Nashville can't be very high on the list.
Who's list is this?
Almost three weeks later, I was in my backyard with the dog when I heard the steady hum of an engine. Blinking into the sun, I saw a single airplane moving slowly and steadily across the sky. I wiped away a tear, looking up at the first plane I'd seen since America was attacked. I watched it until I could no longer see it, wondering if the people on board were frightened.
Sulking in Illinois wrote an account that captures how surreal and devastating being there in NYC was on 9-11.