Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you on 9/11?

The defining question of my generation.
by Miriam Schulman

The defining question of my parent's generation was "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" For my generation, especially for those of us who make our homes in New York, the defining question is "Where were you on 9/11?" My first corporate job out of graduate school was in the World Trade Center. Not the twin towers, but in Seven World Trade. I was there when the first bomb went off in 1993 and we evacuated the building. However, I still remember my bosses furiously working to "close the day" on the computers while right outside their office windows I could see people breaking the glass on the twin tower directly across from our building. Perhaps they could be a bit cavalier as it wasn't our building that was bombed.

Flash forward to the year 2000. I left my hedge fund job not long after its collapse in 1998-- the twin towers of finance. My hedge fund, Long Term Capital had brought the financial world to its knees and after a famous government bailout the partners were gearing up for their next run as a hedge fund. With an adorable toddler girl at home and another baby on the way I bid goodbye to my golden handcuffs without waiting for the start of a paid maternity leave.

I thought maybe my full time adventure staying home with my children would be temporary. As my daughter I picked out crayons and a new pink Barbie backpack for her second year of nursery school I started to fantasize about going back to work. I imagined the clicking of shiny high heels on the concrete pavement as I cleaned my one year old son's spit-up off my shoulder.

When the surreal news came the next day on the radio the next day that the d-jays were staring at the remains of the World Trade Center I took it as radio hoax--a modern day Orson Wells radio broadcast. Everyone has a story in living New York's backyard. We all know someone who almost was there, who could have been there or...who was there, and also know those who were lost.  Watching seven world trade center collapse on the news that night, I remembered my old bosses furiously tapping on their computers as I let my thoughts of returning to that world end as well.
The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, by Faith Ringgold created in collaboration with New York City students, on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 8/30- 1/22

Where were you on 9/11?