10 Sept. 2013
I was in my office at Lincoln Park, Chicago at DePaul University. The day began earlier than usual. I took my regular commute on the CTA Red Line from Andersonville into work. I came in early that morning to get a head start on some paperwork and get the day going. It was in around 8:30 am. The office opened at 9:00 am.
Several of my other colleagues began arriving around the same time. Everyone said their hello’s and continued conversations from the day before. Set up for the day was easy being that the school year had barely gotten underway. I got pulled into Ed Child’s office. The radio was on. I was shown a picture of what appeared to be jetplane near a building. I thought nothing of it really. I somehow pieced together that a plane had crashed into a tower. I was envisioning a small engine Cessna colliding with a cell tower.
The mood turned sour shortly thereafter. The office space had become aware of the actual events on that warm September morning in Chicago. The pace picked up and panic, worry, confusion, survival all dropped on us like dense marble as it is bludgeoned away from its moorings of the earth.
“Two planes have crashed into the World Trade Center towers.”
The Dean of DePaul sent an automated recording to all connected land lines on campus. Over the speakerphone: “All DePaul campuses are now closed until further notice.” We all looked at each other, personal items already in hand.
“I’m taking the “L”. Who’s headed north?” I looked out at my colleagues. My friends. Janelle. Ed. Katie. Maria. Maria looked me in the eye. “Me.” I grabbed her arm to get her moving and we made our way to the “L” platform at Fullerton and Sheffield. When we got outside, many of the cars were abandoned. Fullerton was a parking lot and the “L” platform was becoming crowded. Fast.
As we moved through the sea of people no one looked at each other. People tried desperately to use their cell phones. Connections were spotty at best. Blank stares towards the platform. Escape. Safety. Security. Longing to make sense of a still unfolding situation.
“Come on, Maria.” We pushed our way onto the platform. Ding! Dong! “Doors closing.”, the automated recording calmly stated. The doors wouldn’t close fast enough. People were blocking the doors. The trains were running at full capacity. Even decommissioned trains sitting in the train yard were called up to move Chicagoans out of the Loop. A well-managed cluster fuck if I’d ever seen one. I called my dad to let him know I was making my way out of the city. I assured him I was ok. I mentioned the chatter at the base of the Fullerton Brown Line train platform about flights from O’Hare stopped on the tarmac. Murmurs of more hijacked planes headed towards the Sears Tower. Bombings. Things that ultimately didn’t occur in Chicago that day. “I know you’ll make it out, son. Dios te bendiga.” (English translation: “May god bless you.”)
Where were you on 9/11?
17 Min. AMRAP (Time b/w impacts of AA11 & UAL175, respectively)
9 Wall Walk ups
11 Box Jumps