Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you?

Most people who know me already know this story. I'll never forget that day in 2001; September 10th. You read that correctly. On September 10th, 2001, I was in Tokyo, Japan, getting ready to fly back to New York after a tour with bassist Lonnie Plaxico's band. There was talk of an impending typhoon( the Asian version of a hurricane). I've been afraid to fly for years, and news of a typhoon was really making me nervous. However, once we boarded the plane and took off, the pilot was able to get us out of the weather system fairly quickly. Although I didn't sleep much on the flight, it was a pretty smooth ride; as we got closer to our destination, I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm finally over my fear of flying!" We got in late in the evening, and I went straight from the airport to my apartment on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn to settle in for a long sleep. I called my girlfriend(now my wife) and sleepily mumbled a good night and drifted off into temporary hibernation.

I awoke the next morning feeling great; finally, a good night's sleep and safe in my home. My bedroom window faced an alley; even though my room was dark and cool, I could still tell that it was a sunny day. I got up with the intention of some type of breakfast, even though the clock said noon. I decided to check my messages. I was still a little groggy from the trip and the long sleep.

There was a message from my girlfriend Kerry, who worked as a legal secretary on Maiden Lane, which is in lower Manhattan. "Oh My God......there's been a terrorist attack on us.......10 planes have been hijacked, the World Trade Center................where are you?"

Hmmmm......uh.......am I still asleep?

Well, let's listen to another message....

"George," it was my mother," there's been a terrorist attack, you said you were flying to D.C. today, what's going on.?....."

Whoops! OK, I was supposed to have a gig in  Washington D.C. on September 11, that had been cancelled months before. However, I had told my mother that I was flying in to Washington National, and I had forgotten to tell her it had been cancelled. Oy gevalt....

Another message. Mom. "George, please call me, oh my god, just please call me, I hope you are ok, oh god, my baby......"

Jesus.

Tried to call my mother, but the line was busy. Hm.

Well, I still wasn't buying it. This must be either a dream, or some horrible practical joke. Still very dazed and confused, I got dressed and headed to the corner store for coffee and maybe a black and white cookie. I walked out onto Ocean Parkway into the sun. It was a perfect Autumn in New York day. I ran into my neighbor from across the hall,  Susan, a 60-something African American lady who drove a cab and listened to jazz.

"I guess you heard about the World Trade Center?"

"Uh...yeah.....what's going on?"

She explained what had happened. There was talk of our enemies around the world, American Imperialism, the Kyoto treaty, and so on.....I was still too groggy to comprehend all of it. The crisp New York Autumn air, the blue sky.....I thanked Susan and headed to the corner store.

At that point, I had been a New Yorker more or less for 6 years. New Yorkers have this ability to remain completely unfazed by events which in lesser towns would be major catastrophes. If somebody shoots at you, duck. If somebody mugs you, mug them back. Somebody yelling at you on the subway, just keep reading your book and get off at the next stop.

This was different. You couldn't just act like this was nothing. New York, America, and the World, would never be the same.

Regardless of what I think about who actually was behind the so-called terrorist attacks, the wars which followed, and the current state of our country, I'll never forget that day.


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