In 2001 I had just graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in photography. I had never worked professionally as a photographer, I was eager and excited about my first real internship with the Bay City Times in Bay City, MIchigan a newspaper with a circulation of about 40,000. I had moved to Bay City from Virginia with nothing more than some clothes and a few house hold items. After living in a cheap motel for two days I found an apartment to rent in a run down house near the newspaper. All I cared about was working and proving to myself that I could make a living as a photographer.
The morning of September 11, 2001 my alarm went off and on the radio the DJ was talking about a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. It sounded like a joke. In my mind as the DJ was talking about what had happened I imagined it was some small crop duster that had lost it’s way. In that early hour I could not begin to imagine the truth of the situation.
Walking into the newsroom it was silent; every editor, photographer and reporter was gathered around the few televisions in the room. It was a surreal moment in time. Together we watched the towers fall. The next step for the paper was figuring out how the Bay City Times would cover the events happening in New York and DC. I remember that all air traffic was grounded and a few planes heading for other destinations were parked at the small MBS Airport near Bay City. My assignment that day was going out with a reporter to talk to people on the street and local businesses about how they were feeling about the attacks. The following days were a blur of emotion and sadness.
I grew up the the Washington DC suburbs. At the time living in Michigan I suddenly felt very far from my family. This was the first time in my life I was living completely on my own in a town where I knew no one. I had my internship to keep me focused and I felt extraordinarily lucky to be a member of a newspaper team on such a historic and tragic day.
While I was in Bay City on 9/11/01, David (who is now my husband) was in the middle of the woods in northern Washington. He was about a week from finishing a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (a 2,650-mile trail that goes from the California/ Mexico border to the Washington/ Canadian border). David had a small portable radio and he heard about the attacks as they happened on the radio. If I felt far away from home David felt far from civilization. David grew up just outside New York City in New Jersey so it was especially difficult for him to be so far from family.
Today it is hard to believe it has been eight years since the attack. My heart goes out the the families whose loved ones died on 9/11.