So I did, and minutes later watched in disbelief as a plane flew into the second tower. It was 9:03 in New York.
Then there was a report of a fire at the Pentagon. No, it wasn't just a fire, a plane had crashed into that building too. Then United Airlines flight #93 crashed in Pennsylvania. I had been on that flight before. Newark to San Francisco, non-stop. I lived in New York for 17 years before moving to Atlanta just three weeks before 9/11. My family lives near San Francisco. I had flown over a million miles on United Airlines. Always uneventful.
Memories of the towers flashed through my mind. Dinners at Windows on the World on the 106th floor of the North Tower. The South Tower's rooftop observation deck (always a must-see with visitors). Countless business meetings in both towers. My then-husband had a building materials business in lower Manhattan and delivered daily to the WTC. I could have easily been there.
We had no idea what would happen next as planes were were grounded. IMMEDIATELY. To the closest available airport.
It was also the beginning of an unplanned two week stay in Los Angeles as I had no way home. By the time I was finally able to get a flight back to Atlanta, I was prepared for the long waits at security, but not for the shocking pile of items removed from carry-on bags. Plain, everyday objects like scissors, knitting needles, sewing kits. Travel alarm clocks and nail clippers. The tiny screwdrivers people use to fix their eyeglasses. I tried not to stare.
I was lucky. None of my family or friends were among the 2,985 killed that day.
But things were never quite the same.