Ten Years Ago
Ten years ago today, I was 23. I was working as an assistant manager at the Huntington Theatre Company’s box office in Boston. I was living in Medford with a roommate. I hadn’t met my husband yet, and I was spending a lot of time trying to revive a relationship with a guy who just wasn’t that into me.
That Tuesday morning, I was lounging in bed. I didn’t need to be at work until one o’clock that afternoon, so I was taking it easy. It was a beautiful day, and I opened all the windows, made myself a cup of tea, and got back into bed to watch some tv.
I sat in bed, stunned, while the Today show shifted from its normal coverage to the breaking story of an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. Shocking, and tragic, but obviously just a freak accident, I told myself. And then there was the second plane.
So I got out of bed and tried to find someone, anyone, to confirm for me that I wasn’t hallucinating. My roommate was already at work, so I went to the phone and tried to call my best friend. Couldn’t connect. Tried to call my mother. That didn’t connect, either.
I heard footsteps, and realized that my upstairs neighbors were getting ready for work. So I went out to the front steps of our two-family house and knocked on their door, barefoot, in a t-shirt and some plaid pajama pants. My neighbor answered the door and asked if I was all right.
“Are you watching tv?” I asked.
“You need to turn on your tv,” I said.
So we went up to her living room, and turned on the tv. Over the next couple of minutes, her roommates, who had been getting ready for work, abandoned their routines and joined us on the couch. The four of us sat there, saying almost nothing, for hours.
Eventually, my call phone rang. It was my coworker, asking if I could still come in to work. The performance was cancelled, and we’d need to call all the ticketholders to let them know, and she didn’t want to make the rest of the staff come in if just the managers could do it.
I got ready for work and decided to drive in, not knowing if the trains were even running. Driving south on I-93 into Boston, I had never seen so few cars. The lower deck, which would usually be backed up even midday, was practically empty. I listened to WBUR, the local NPR station, on my way in. It’s strange to listen to the radio when they have no idea what to say.
I got to work, which was mostly deserted. The other managers and I tried to call our ticketholders, but it was an exercise in futility. The phones refused to connect nine times out of ten. Eventually, we decided that people would figure out on their own not to come to the theatre.
My coworker and I decided to grab some lunch. Standing outside, just a few blocks from the Prudential, the fighter jets kept circling. It was like watching a movie. We stood in the middle of the normally busy road and looked up at the planes.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” my coworker asked. “I’m pretty sure it’s making me feel worse.”
The day passed very slowly, and the staff began to leave. The general manager and I stayed around until the performance was supposed to begin, just in case anyone came and didn’t know. I don’t think anyone came.