After a handful of visits, I moved to New York City for keeps in January, 2001. The month is important. January. That was still winter. Still frozen. Still ignorant entirely of what was to come. I moved to New York City and got to work. That was why I was here after all. But it took a bit to get going. I started working in a stationery store and managed to swing an internship-turned-job at Performance Space 122. I started planning my first independent performance project. I held auditions. I scheduled rehearsals. The first was set for an early Tuesday in September. That Tuesday.
That morning I watched NY1 as was my habit at the time. A friend was crashed out on our couch, and my then-boyfriend-now-husband had already gone to work downtown. A hedge fund had found favor with his Adobe Acrobat scanning skills. It was a different economy. It was a different world. I was sending emails over an early version of the Internet, just this side of dial-up, when the first plane hit. NY1 thought it was a weather plane. The footage was a swooping camera jerking up from its planned view of a street construction project. I sent an email to a friend, making a joke about small planes. No one thought it was anything serious. Then the dread reality sunk in. And the second plan hit. Color drained from our faces. Jackets were removed from the newscasters. My friend woke up on the couch. We stared at the TV. We did not hear from my then-boyfriend-now-husband who had gone to work mere steps from the Towers. We stared at the TV. We cleaned. We cleaned and cleaned. We did not hear. We stared at the TV. We cleaned.
Hours later, he staggered through the door. Others were not so lucky. I can still see the photos that plastered the subways in the weeks that followed. I can still see the beams blocking the Cortland Street station, painted with a hurried “Do Not Stop.” I can still smell that smell of twisted iron and flesh. I can still hear the sirens. I still look for what is missing the skyline. I still.