Sunday, September 11, 2011

MY 9/11

Latest Dernier Cri*
On the night of September 10th I ate dinner with my dear friend Richard Todd.  Anyone who knows Richard knows that when you dine with Richie, the food is bountiful and the wine flows like the  Niagara.  It was always a feast and a pleasure to be with him.  I was twenty-two living the dream of trying to break into the fashion world in New York City.  I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and did not come across too many fancy meals.  The restaurant was the Red Cat in Chelsea and I remember they served radishes with sea-salt as their bar food.  I thought that was stupid because it seemed very trendy, almost silly.  Plus, a sister has to eat and as many times as I tried to shove one of those dirt diggers in my mouth I had already washed it down with most of my blood orange martini.  The night was perfect, great food, great wine, great service.  I went to bed utterly satisfied and a wee bit tipsy.  My alarm clock did not go off on the morning of September 11th.  Oh Crap, I was running late and needed to hurry so I would not get scolded by my boss, the infamous fashion designer, Cynthia Rowley.  I ran to the L train and made it to Union square in a jiffy.  Once I stepped off the train everything changed.  Trains were packed and people were panicked.  I remember waiting a very long time to catch the N or R to get to 57th street and when one finally arrived, I stepped in and sat down nervous as a cat.  The guy beside me kept saying "the tower has been hit, the tower has been hit"  I will honestly tell you and this was my southern ignorance protecting me, I thought he meant the cell phone towers.  I envisioned in my head a tower that helped cell phones work and one had been hit by something and now no one's cell phones would work.  I had no idea he was talking about the World Trade Center towers.  I looked at this guy like he was crazy, because you never know who or what you are going to get beside you on the subway.  I thought he was just another freak on the N train.  I flew through the front door where Cynthia quickly greeted me as I apologized profusely.  "The trains were so slow today, apparently the towers have been hit."  She ordered me to go into to the design room and tune into the television.  The rest of the CR team sat in horror watching the first tower smolder. I remember saying to guy in charge of shipping "this is bad those towers are going to implode."  My mind scanned the time line of the crashes. I was in Brooklyn waiting for the L train at  8:46 am when the first tower was hit.  I was running off the N train to 57th st. when the second building was hit- 9:03.  As I watched the towers and replays of the towers being hit,  I went into a state of shock.  Kind of like fight or flight.  I first called my mother, I was only 22.  I asked her what to do.  Her first questions regarded my being OK, then she informed me that this was a terrorist attack. Next, she asked what shoes I had on.  I at first thought this was weird, but she followed with" because you are going to be doing some walking." I luckily kept a pair of Chinese slippers under my desk for when my feet staredt hurting at the end of each work day.  I told my mom I loved her and hung up the phone. I walked out on the roof of my building and watched from 2 miles away billows of smoke cloud the sky.  What was I going to do?  I called my best friend Marc and he was frantic because he could not touch base with his sister and she worked at American Express- literally right beside the Twin Towers.  By the way he ran 80 blocks to find her and did- alive and well. I can barely think of that without choking.  How afraid he must have been.   But until he found her he could not deal with me.  I walked to Bloom where my friend  and room mate Lily worked and I sent out an email to my entire contact list about what had happened and what the buzz was.   I wish I had that letter. I remember I said fuck a lot.  Lily and I freaked out and cried and eventually went our separate ways and I went to my friend Kimry's office to get my plan together. She and I went to high school together. I honestly did not know where to go.  I stayed with her until we parted ways and I called my friend Carmen who was older than me and we had worked at CR when I first moved to NY.  She knew the city well and made me feel safe.  She was one of five girls, Cuban, and a Brown graduate.  The next stop was walking down to Soho.  I walked briskly to Soho and there was a police barricade around lower Manhattan.  Carmen lived on Wooster St. which is basically in  the heart of Soho.  I contemplated walking back to Brooklyn, but I was so scared and at this point if you got through to anyone on a cell phone you were lucky because all circuits were busy. I remember looking at a police officer and saying "excuse me sir, I live in Williamsburg and cannot catch a taxi, what should I do and he said so sadly "walk, everyone else is."  I used the pay phone and reached Carmen and she told me to get there fast.  I had to jump a fence and tell a couple lies to get to Carmen's building, but I got there.  I remember walking to Grub in Soho when the seventh tower collapsed.  I passed Matthew Broderick walking his dog.  If you lived in Soho you could not leave Soho.  I was there for the night.  We went to a Restaurant nearby and I called my sister from a pay phone and could not get her to answer, we had not spoken all day.  Soon, the  phone rang at the restaurant and it was Caroline, I cradled the phone tightly to my ear wishing I could feel her arms around me, telling me I was going to be OK, that we were all going to be OK.  I went to bed at Carmen's feeling safe and sound for the moment.
The next day any and everybody was in Union Square. This was as far south as you could go.  I saw so many people there that morning.  I had lunch at the Coffee Shop and dished with friends.  I went back to Brooklyn totally broken and very tired.  The next months were a night mare.  Kids, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, so many people searching for their loved ones.  I remember an entry in my journal said "I am so depressed these days, I feel like I am swimming in a sea of milk jugs and everyone is missing."  My depression worsened and if it was not for my best friend Marc, I would probably still be lying in my bed on Havemeyer and Grand.  He arrived on the 13th of September and I answered the door in my pj's, I remember he picked me up and said to me "nope, you are not doing this, you have got to pull your shit together."  So I did.  I did what he told me to do.  The world had to keep going and I had to as well.  New York became friendlier after September 11th.  It was still New York City! but it was a different New York City.  I cried a lot and so did everyone else.  Someone every where had lost someone they loved.  It was like 3 degrees of separation maybe 2. Time was a healer and little by little people started to heal.  But there was not a band aid big enough to cover the wound that hurt NY.
 I want to say something positive now, that I became happier, that the signs everywhere didn't effect me, but that would be a lie.  I put on a mask like everyone else.  I did make a new friend who is still one of my best friends today, Kate.  We made it through the sadness together.  Fashion was dead after this, but we were not and we went to parties and entertained celebrities and partied our way through the after-madness. What was I suppose to do. I was only 22.
Marc is still my best friend and I love him with every ounce of my being for taking care of a little ol southern gal in the big appie.
Kate and I are still besties and we both had our babies on March 1st 2011.  She was a bridesmaid in my wedding and I attended hers in Galveston, Texas.
Lily is my daughters God- mother and she and I are friends til the end.
Kimry is still kickin it in the city. Viva Saint Mary's.

*Osama Bin Ladan was killed May 2nd, 2011.
May all who have suffered or been a victim of terrorism or any act of hate be blessed and healed and rest assured that the fate of evil will be revenge from the big man upstairs. God Bless America.
God bless America

marc with me on my wedding day

Lily and my daughter Tallulah in Napa

Marc walked my mother down the aisle, that's how bestie we are

My sister and bestie

Me and my Katie


  1. You were here when it happened, and I am here 10 years later...still affected by the events of that day. Your post broke the flood gates that had been holding strong all day. I've been avoiding watching the news today for fear of loosing it altogether....the sadness, the worry, the fear, and the tension. My biggest comfort comes in the fact that even though at times I may feel alone, I am never truly alone. Love you Char! And thanks for sharing! Xoxo, Elkin

  2. Elkin, hiiiii. I wish I had been notified of this beautiful comment you left me. I am glad this touched you in some way and I think of you so often. Most of all I am so proud of you for sticking it out. NYC is a big nasty world sometimes, especially for southern peaches like ourselves. I miss you and hope for you only the best. BIG HUG!!!! xoxo-Char