I was in NY for the MTV Music Awards in September of 2001. It was an exciting week in NY. Fashion Week, The MTV Music Awards, Beyonce was hosting her 21st birthday party AND Michael Jackson was hosting his televised birthday party. All of these events were huge, publicized events with lots of media attention. New York city was buzzing!
I attended the MTV Awards for work. My project was a contest / sweepstakes for a client with the first prize being a trip to the MTV Music Awards. Part of my work obligation entailed escorting 12 contest winners, all under the age of 21, to the MTV Awards in NY. I could not really express how proud I was to be at this point in my life. I was 29, my career was going well, I was working in an industry I loved. I just purchased my first condo, I was due to close on my condo on 9/13. I felt on top of the world.
At the awards, The kids were so happy, their happiness poured right into me, and we all truly enjoyed the experience together. I felt the magic and enthusiasm of their youth. Prior to the awards, we met Destiny's Child, and Beyonce of course, at their recording studio. The meet & greet was part of the contest prize. I wish I could find those pictures of me posing with Destiny's Child.
Being at the MTV Awards was a surreal experience. We were up in the nose-bleed section but in a short period of time, I realized that all the celebrities were at the main floor bar. And, that main floor bar was accessible by anyone. Let's just say, I spent a lot of time at the main floor bar. I missed Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson's performance (which was the highlight of that year's show) but I did get to stand five feet away from Snoop Dog and drink a Jack & Diet. I love Snoop. I am totally West Coast.
That weekend, I recall being at The Four Seasons with some friends and there were models everywhere. So many models that they "canceled" each other out, like fractions, and left room for average girls like me. I was in the bathroom at The Four Seasons reapplying my lipstick. When I looked into the mirror. Devon Aoki was standing behind me applying her lipstick. I always found Devon Aoki stunningly beautiful, I was amazed. She stood there and stole my beauty, it was as if the mirror didn't even show my reflection anymore. Just Devon Aoki.
Once my work obligations were completed, my friend Sharon met me in NY for the weekend. We stayed the remainder of that weekend in New York with our friend Dean. We had a great time, as we always did when in NY. I flew home on Monday morning and went back to work. My friend Sharon was to take the red eye that morning 9/11. She made it but this story isn't about her.
Tuesday morning, September 11th, I woke up in my rented apartment. I was moving in two days into my condo so everything was packed. As soon as my eyes opened, I turned on the Today Show. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were reporting that a small plane, perhaps a Cessna, had flow into one of the Twin Towers. I was not too alarmed at that point, but my friend Dean worked across the street from The World Trade Center so I called his office. He said, "Yeah, they said we can go home if we want, I think I am leaving soon." Shortly after I hung up the phone with Dean, I watched the second plane hit on live TV.
I could not digest what was happening. I watched the TV, I heard the news anchors saying "A second plane has hit!" But nothing was registering. I stood there and watched the Towers smoke. I just stood there.
All I could think was to call Dean back immediately. This time, just his voice mail. I remember standing there, in the living room, still standing there watching the TV in my underwear jumping up and down screaming. I was not really sure why I was screaming. I just kept screaming "Oh my god, oh my god!" over and over. I can cry right now just thinking about that moment.
At this point, I knew the situation was bad but I had to go to work. I got to work and as soon as I walked up to my cube, Garrett, who sat across from me, rolled his chair into the aisle and yelled "A plane just hit the Pentagon". By this point in time, it was getting creepy. Way creepy. We were experiencing chaos and confusion, the adrenaline was running high.
I got to my computer and started to IM my brother. We didn't have TVs in my office but I knew that my brother would have the best technology (he works in IT). Remember, we didn't have live stream news like we do now. You had to be tech savvy to get information quickly back in '01.
My brother watched various streaming news outlets, he watched the Towers burn and he would IM me everything that was happening. He IM'd me as people jumped from the Towers. I can remember him typing "They're jumping! Why are they jumping?" He IM'd me as the Towers fell. He IM'd me as the last plane went down. Finally, my office closed and we all went home. There is NO forgetting. Each second is etched into my brain as if it just happened.
I went to my father's condo and watched the world fall apart.
After the debris settled, the week that followed was far worse. We watched news for 24 hours. We watched as the news sources played recordings of people who were in the Towers leaving voice messages for their friends, their husbands, their children. Voice messages of people who were minutes from facing an inevitable, horrific death saying their last good-bye on an answering machine to the people they loved the most. In that last second, who does one call? These thoughts plagued me for an eternity. Those voice messages were so painful, they were from ghosts. A full year went by before I went to sleep at night without crying myself to sleep. I still cry for each family who lost someone to a senseless act.
I also cry for each family in the middle east who has to suffer from the arrogance of men who've hijacked a religion. I wish the American people would realize, this is NOT about religion, this is propaganda war and about politics, land & money. Just like all wars in history. Religion has always been a scapegoat.