November 14, 2003


I can't even fully describe the emotional roller coaster I went through today.

The day started out with coffee this morning with Tiff.... all good.

I then got ready and headed into the city to one of my favorite stores, Conways. They have really cool clothes for super cheap. I took the N train downtown into the city. So stoked... didn't have an anxiety attack. I really didn't think I would, but, I know emotionally where I was the last time I was here... and I remember every time we left Queensborough Plaza and headed into the city, I would get this curious knot in my stomach... hoping the train wouldn't stop in the darkness. But all was good... I brought my head phones with me and was listening to a great cd Jon made for me like two years ago.

I got off at 34th Street and knew exactly where to go... up Broadway to 35th where Conways was. Everything looked pretty much the same... except H&M, my other favorite store, was down Broadway instead of on 34th Street. I am going to hit H&M this weekend. I didn't have time for it today.

Conways was everything I expected it to be. I found so much cool stuff... and spent way more than I should have... but whatever! I am on vacation! :)

I still had some time to spare but decided to head over to Merrill Lynch early. I figured I would take some time and go to Ground Zero first before seeing my friends for lunch. I also knew that the path getting there would be different since the tunnel I used to walk through was no longer there.

I took the N train down to Cortland Street and got off right by Century 21, another cool shopping place. As soon as I looked across the street, I gasped. I couldn't believe it. It was a pit of construction. I immediately crossed the street and went right up to the fence. The entire area has a huge fence around it. It was not long before the tears started streaming down my face. I just kept shaking my head like I was in some sort of dream state. Of course I had seen the pictures and watched the news reports... but this was unbelievable. I stood there and cried and cried and cried. I saw where the shopping center used to be... and where the tunnel was to the north tower... I pictured it all the way it used to be. I was in serious shock. For about ten minutes, I just thought and prayed and thanked G-d that all of my friends got out ok and that I wasn't there. I walked around the whole fence and saw the memorials that they had set up for the families and the pictures above of what it used to look like. I took lots of pictures.... and sobbed.

I walked up these stairs and through a glass tunnel that looked just like the one that I used to walk through when I worked at Merrill. I didn't have an anxiety attack or anything like that.... but I did feel empty... like I was sleep walking or something.

I made my way through the Financial Center and headed over to Merrill, wiping my eyes and trying to reapply my make-up so I looked normal. I had to stop and buy more film because I took so many pictures at Ground Zero.

I got to Merrill and things were totally different. They had to scan my bags before I went in.... they asked for identification and then took a computerized picture of me. When they called Annette, she wasn't there so I had a seat in the lobby and waited. While I was sitting there, I thought I saw Annette walking out of the building... so I ran out and called after her. It WAS her... she was going outside for a quick smoke.

Your early! she said.

I ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug and broke down for the 15th time that day! She just hugged me and said how good it was to see me. I told her that she didn't know how good it was to see her!

I went outside with her while she had a smoke. Outside, I ran into another one of my former Merrill co-workers named Jay. He looked at me funny and then was like OH MY G-D! What are you doing here I gave him a hug too. He worked on the trading floor so I wasn't sure if he got out. Apparently, he did. We stood there, in the freezing cold, and chatted for a bit.

Annette and I finally went upstairs where I saw everyone I used to work with. It was so amazing. Everyone looks the same. They said how good I looked and how they liked the highlights in my hair. When I worked there, I had pretty short hair and it was all dark brown.... so I looked a little different. I also am not so skidish and anxiety ridden anymore! YAY! We chatted for a while... I showed them some pictures.... and they gave me the scoop on everyone in the office. Some people left after 9-11 because they couldn't deal with working in that building. I guess Merrill offered everyone that wanted to leave a pretty nice package. They told me who had babies, who was pregnant, who got married, and who was still a bitch. ha ha ha. Some things never change. All the lawyers came out of their offices to say hello and give me hugs. So nice. Unfortunately, the main boss that I worked for, Carlos, was not there. He was in Puerto Rico because his mom had passed away. So sad....

Annette and I headed out to get some Chinese food. Yum. We sat there and talked for like two hours. I thanked her for being a surogate mother for me in NY. I told her how important her relationship was to me and how much I appreciated her constant support and love. She told me not to get mushy on her because she didn't want to cry. Typical Annette strength.... She was mad because I insisted on paying. I told her it was payback for all of the red vines she used to bring me. When I was having a really hard time and wasn't eating much, she would always bring me red vines so my sugar level wouldn't drop.

She told me all about Ally, her now 11 year old daughter... showed me a picture. She's adorable. She told me how so many people at Merrill had serious anxiety problems after 9-11 so Merrill brought in therapists for free. They provided breakfast and lunch for all workers and free therapy sessions. How cool is that? She told me how everyone freaked out when NY had their blackout because they thought it was another terrorist attack. She told me how after the first plane hit, they were told to go back to work because it wasn't a big deal and how they didn't evacuate until after the second plane hit.... five minutes before the building collapsed. She told me about how this last summer, there was a Continental flight of military coming back from Iraq that got permission to circle the Statue of Liberty and no one was informed... so they all got hysterical when they saw a commercial plane flying at 500 feet and circling their area. She described the smell after they returned back to the Financial Center... and how some people were throwing up on the street from it.

I was in shock to say the least.

The conversation wasn't all about 9-11... it was about her family and my family and what was new...etc. But everything she said about her experiences during the attack and after were what really shook me up. I kept telling her how thankful I was that they were physically ok.

After a few deep breathes, we headed back up to Merrill. I stayed there and chatted a bit more with everyone, took some pictures, gave some hugs, and then headed out. The way out was just as saddening as the way in was. I couldn't wait to get back on the subway and out to Astoria.

Unfortunately, since I was totally shaken up, I got on the wrong train... and then transferred to another wrong train that took me up to Jackson Heights... so I had to get on another train that took me back into the city. OY. Finally, I got on the N train to Astoria.... but then I got off a stop to early. Clearly, I was not running on all cylinders. Eventually, I got to Ditmars... got off the train... and walked in the right direction to Tiffany's house.

I just need to unwind a bit.... lots of emotions running through my body.

Tonight, girls night out with Tiffany.... much needed drinks.

Posted by Jenny at November 14, 2003 02:26 PM

I was a little disturbed when I saw Ground Zero (even though I'd never worked there -- my grandfather had years ago, so I had been up in the towers)... it just looked like they'd taken down a couple of buildings and cleared the area to build something new there.

Posted by: Keith on November 15, 2003 06:55 PM
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