September 11, 2001: I hate the day. Every anniversary and “remember the day” is like yesterday. This day to me recalls FEAR in me. I remember it was my 2nd week working at the National Capital Regional Office as an architectural historian on Haines Point in Washington DC on the Potomac River. I remember staring across the river with fellow NPSers wondering, "hmm, the Pentagon is on fire..." We all thought there was just a random building fire until we heard about the plane that hit in Pennsylvania, headed for the White House. I remember being told to go home "to my family" because a plane just hit at the World Trade Center in NYC. However, my family was in California, over 3200 miles away, and were still asleep 3 hour behind.
As soon as we were dismissed, about two hours after the Pentagon attack, I remember driving by the Pentagon and pass hitchhiking fed employees on the 395. People were hopping in the back of trucks to get out of the area. I remember listening to DC 101’s “Elliot in the Morning,” a shock-jock radio station that switched to real reporting. People were calling into the station, recalling what was happening around DC and all those working in the fed jobs.
I remember going home to an empty apt with a blowup mattress on the floor and no TV. I ended up going to the gym, watching the news non-stop in their lounge. But I kept wondering "who'd we piss off?" and yet that question was never answered by the news. My mom eventually called me but it was tough to share this experience with her, plus she only wanted to hear I was safe. We both ended the call helpless to help each other…should couldn’t hold me and I couldn’t tell her how fearful I was. In the aftermath, I remember the signs in the window, the American flags on car bumpers, and the sharpshooters on the roofs of every federal building on the National Mall to Pennsylvania Avenue.
That FEAR carried with me for years while I lived in DC under the Bush Administration. It resonated every anniversary and that day will sadly never diminish like a bad-form of PTSD. Every September 11th it is hard to reflect on those that perished because of these personal memories that trigger FEAR.
In 2007, I could not take the DC area anymore and moved back home to California to one of the second ruralist counties in the state far from politics, threats, and terrorism.