remembering 9/11

there are moments in history that define each generation.

for grandma and grandpa gomez, it was december 7, 1941 -- pearl harbor. it was their first wedding anniversary. they were living in wahiawa (near pearl harbor) and headed to the beach. they ran into soldiers who told them to turn back and go home.

for my parent’s generation, it was the day jkf was assassinated, or the day elvis died.

for me, it was 9/11. i will never forget what i was doing on that day.

my mom and some of my aunties and uncles were in town because uncle jerry, their eldest brother, was in the hospital, dying of kidney cancer.

at the time, i was working at nokia and at crate and barrel twice a week. i had worked both jobs the day before, so when i woke up in the morning on 9/11, i remember being extremely tired. as usual, the first thing i did was turned on the tv to ktvu channel 2 news (which i still do today). as i stumbled to the bathroom, i remember hearing pam cook and mark curtis talk about a plane crash in new york. i really didn’t think anything of it, until i heard them say that two planes had hit the world trade center. i quickly realized that something big was going on and ran to the tv to see what was happening. at this point, the towers had not fallen but air travel had been suspended. my mom was scheduled to fly home that morning so i immediately called aunty’s house to tell her what happened. my mom answered the phone, somewhat annoyed at me because she was about to walk out the door to go to the airport. i remember telling her, “uh, you’re not going anywhere for a while…turn on the tv.”

i spent the next hour glued to the news, wishing i didn’t have to go to work. by the time i got on the road, the towers had fallen and new york was in a state of mad chaos. i listened to kgo as i drove to mountain view. by then, the pentagon had been hit and there were rumors flying about additional possible targets. i remember nervously looking up at the sky and wondering if the west coast was next.

when i got to the office i found some people in the cafeteria watching tv while others constantly refreshed their internet browsers hoping for minute-by-minute updates on cnn and msnbc. The internet was so slow because traffic was so high. i remember every image that was updated on msnbc. our international colleagues sent mass emails to the us teams, offering their condolences at the horror of the day. we had an all-hands meeting to talk about what happened, but they still made us stay at work – like any of us got anything done!

thankfully, i didn’t have to work at c&b that night so i went straight to kaiser in south city, as i did every evening during that time. ironically, sept 11th was a great day for uncle jerry – his last good one. his spirits were up; he sang hawaiian songs with the aunties and uncles and even asked for chewing gum. while the rest of the world was in utter devastation, our family found a little joy on that day. sadly, after sept 11th, uncle jerry’s health digressed until he finally passed in the early hours of september 19th.

i’ll never forget the days following 9/11:
* there was fear that the malls would be attacked. i worked at the Stanford C&B so i wasn’t that scared since c&b is detached from the rest of that mall. i knew i could make a quick run for it if i had to.
* extreme patriotism that unified our country
* tearful moments of agony and despair as we witnessed new yorkers desperately search for their love ones
* and who can forget the world series – ny versus arizona

and here we are 7 years later. seems like it was yesterday...