Remembering September 11

In our time the events took place around tea-time, people were wide-awake and we all fully experienced it right away. I had the day off from work, I remember it was a strange day, even before the news hit me. Somehow, looking back at it, I must have felt some type of eery tension I couldn’t really put my fingers on until it all started. It was a sunny day here as well. I was at my dentist about an hour before the first plane hit the WTC, for annual inspection, but he needed to do a lot of clean-up so it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Away from the dentist I stepped in our city-subway (metro) and took a ride to the Amstelstation, I remember looking out of the window during the ride, thinking how strangely wild the weather appeared to be getting all of a sudden. I was determined to buy a set of speakers at RAF HiFi in the Rijnstraat, since they were having a bargain sales week or something. I must have been inside the store, checking out some speakers, for 5 minutes when I heard some loud dutch cursing from the front-side-room of the store, where some TV-set was tuned in on CNN. I went there to look what the fuss was all about, customers as well as the entire sales crew were walking towards the same room where the TV-sets were. Walking in I remember people all looking at the same large screen with shock beaming from their eyes and their mouths open, some were explaining each other what fragments others had just missed. My first words in the room were: “Is this for real?” (in dutch) Yes, this was no movie, these were no special effects. several unknown people replied. So I added “but.. this is New York, right?”. Someone was tuning a third TV-set to yet another station. I was somewhat flabbergasted and numb about it, just couldn’t really believe this, I thought I was having some bad dream, wanted to go home fast and check it out in detail on my own TV. In the midst of all the turmoil I managed to buy the speakerset I had my eyes on. They were small, but the boxes were quite large, and I had to carry them all the way home. I had to take a tram. It was really full of people when I stepped in. People inside the tram were talking about it. You know, it’s strange how events like this bring people together in cities. I recall standing in that packed tram with my speakers (all seats were taken) thinking there are┬ámany similarities between New York City and Amsterdam, people were feeling really uncomfortable about it, New York is very close to us, we love that city, we grew up with it, pretty much, if not from TV or movies, then from being so much alike. The realisation that yes this could happen to us as well, the futility of our lives.┬áThis is a freedom loving city as well, with a lot of anonymous humans, all living in their own mini cosmos. I have lots of (mostly online) american friends, whom I worried about since most live in NYC, and some people of my work coincidentally were there at the time. These were weird minutes, some people could barely hold themselves together, public transportation is tense enough as it is when it’s the busy hours, full of people trying not to lose their minds. I could tell this news caused and extra tension in that tram. Half of the people knew, the other half learned about it right then and there. “you’re joking, right?” “No, I’m not.” “No he isn’t!” another anonymous person added. Slowly it sinked in, this was all really happening. Traffic outside the tram was panicky as well. More people were honking their horns than usual. Impatient, shocked, angry. Walking from the tram to my home was grim, it was getting clouded, I was carrying the weight of the speaker-boxes as fast as I could. Inside I dumped the boxes on the floor and ran towards my TV’s power-button, had a raincoat on that I didn’t put off for at least an hour, as I sat there frozen in front of my TV holding the remote control in both my hands. As I understood what had happened some more I managed to ease down a little, and noticed that my answering machine blinked with 4 messages. I played them, friends were warning me about the news, my cousin was saying: “woah.. put on CNN! NOW!.. you will not believe your eyes!”. I stayed in all evening, skipped everything else, watched the news from everywhere, went to chat and e-mail with parents and friends on the web about it. I missed that one girl I was in love with, wondered where she was, what she was thinking. I truly felt pain, anyone touching New York New York is touching me personally. I knew this would change life as we knew it back then. And geez it sure did…

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