same sky, ten years later

September 11, 2011 -- same sky, ten years later

I knew it was going to be one of those moments that would replay in my mind years later. Like a movie.

I'm not psychic or anything, but it had happened before, that feeling of knowing as I was living a moment that it would be seared in mind forever.

I think I was about three the first time it happened. I was on my grandmother's floor, playing with Fisher Price locking beads, and I remember the cold floor, the feel of the beads as I pulled them apart, the camera flash. I look at the photograph now, and it's not nearly as vivid as my memory of somehow knowing I would remember this moment. I don't know why, I just did.

On that September morning I walked out of my basement apartment in Charlottesville to pick up the morning paper. I subscribed to the New York Times, but it was more than just the paper because it had become my hometown paper over that summer. My boyfriend and I had moved to New Jersey the summer of 2001 so I could do my summer internship at a pharmaceutical company; he was kind enough to transfer to the Wall Street office of his bank so we could spend the summer together.

We went into New York City every chance we got. We had a great summer.

Living there after graduation was a real possibility and the paper was a daily reminder of that.

That Tuesday, as I walked out into a perfect Virginia September morning, the phone rang. I ignored it as I looked up at the sky and noticed how incredibly blue and clear and quiet it was. I don't know what time it was, but it was past 8 am.

I don't know why I looked up. I don't tend to walk with my head in the clouds. If anything, I tend to do the opposite. But that morning, I looked up and was amazed that there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. For some reason, I spent a moment trying to find one. Unreal. I remember thinking that this sky, this search, this crisp air, was a moment I'd never forget.

Eventually I looked down. I was a graduate student living in a basement apartment, so when I looked straight ahead all I saw were cement walls, which then turned into a cement floor. The paper was easy to find in the middle of all that cement. I picked it up, glanced at the front page, and remember that there was a story about teenagers not wearing enough clothes.

I remember smiling to myself at the story.

Then the phone rang again, and I walked inside.


Six months later, I had interviewed for jobs in Miami and Los Angeles but still didn't have a plan for after graduation. Did I want to live all by myself in California? Was I ready to go back to Miami? I hadn't figured out what I wanted, but every once in a while I thought about all those people who moved to New York just so they could work at the towers.

My boyfriend, who lived in DC, called one morning. We had never talked about my graduation plans. He was in DC for now, but he could be transferred at any moment.

"What about Boston?" he asked.