(Photo courtesy of BlueMagoo)
Thirteen years ago, I was in the first month of my freshman year at the University of Scranton. A girl in my Intro to Poetry class mentioned to the teacher that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but I didn’t think that was too big a deal. I thought she meant a small plane.
I grew up in Brooklyn. I had been to the top of the WTC in elementary school. Days — or the day — before leaving for college, I drove around Rockaway at night with my friend Mike, and remember taking one last look at the skyline as we approached the Marine Parkway Bridge. A little picture in my head before moving to a new city for the first time in my life.
When I reached my dorm room after the Intro to Poetry class, I found my roommate — who was also from Brooklyn — sitting on the floor in front of our TV. He told me the Twin Towers were gone. I don’t remember my initial reaction to the news, but I remember at some point taking our green, cordless phone and dialing home. The phones didn’t work for a while at first, but eventually I got through.
No one was home, so I dialed up my grandmother — Nanny, as me and my brothers called her — and she answered. She lived about a block from my house in Old Mill Basin. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I’m sure it was a mumbled mess of, “IseveryoneOKwhatisgoingonwhatarewegonnado?”
Nanny, who had eye issues and was either completely blind or nearly blind at this point, said, “Oh, that’s in the city. We’re fine here.” Now, that probably isn’t exactly what she said, but that’s how I remember it. It threw me — we of course were not completely fine — but it was also oddly comforting.
The worst thing to ever happen to this country had just happened, thousands had died, people had lost family and friends, and we still didn’t know if anything else was coming. But my Nanny was in Brooklyn. She was fine. On a day of so much bad news, that was good to hear.