September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago

It really was a fantastic September morning, as I recall. We'd just moved into a brownstone in Adam's Morgan - recently enough that the fresh paint in my bedroom was still making me nauseous - and my roommate had gotten up and out early to catch a shuttle to New York. I walked into the office just before 9a and all eyes were on the conference room television. Tower One hit. Tower Two. About then we started getting calls that the White House was a target, so folks evacuated and it wasn't too long before staffers trickled in, situated as we were safely a few blocks north. Once we learned the Pentagon had been hit everyone scattered, disconnected and confused.

I walked up 18th street and made my way straight to the rooftop of the Cairo where some friends were living at the time. Completed in 1894, it not only pre-dated but actually caused the 1899 Heights of Buildings Act, which limits offices and residences in the District to 110-ft; at 164-ft, the Cairo towers above every rooftop in Washington, which afforded us this haunting view of the skyline, smoke emanating from the Pentagon in the distance across the Potomac.

Later that afternoon I returned to a noiseless house and flipped on the news and watched quietly the scenes of fear and chaos. At last heard from my roommate, who was fine, so I took a slow walk up the typically bustling street and saw virtually no one. It wasn't unlike neighborhoods the country over, I'd imagine, rendered temporary ghost towns.

Everyone's got a story from that day, ten years ago. This one just happens to be mine.

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