flashbulb memories

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The sound of the phone ringing gradually woke me.   Nearly 6am (Pacific coast time), only UK friends would call me at this unearthly  time in the morning.   Sleepily I reached for the phone and pulled it to my ear only to hear the dial-tone.   Who-ever called had hung-up.   I never found out who called.   Awake I decided to get up and make myself a cup of tea,   to enjoy the sunny morning before setting out for work.

In my doziness I stubbed my toe on the half-packed suitcase,  preparing for my planned sailing holiday in Greece.   Scheduled to fly out on September 16th I was looking forward to a club holiday with English friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, a reunion vacation.

I put the kettle and  TV on.   The sound of emergency services,  the stressful pitch of the voices, the urgency and drama was clear before I’d even realised what I was seeing.   I watched as flight 175 hit the South Tower.   I cried.

Nearly 3  hours later at work, not much work being done, by anyone.   Many people just didn’t turn up,   those who did were phoning relatives and friends,  trying to reassure themselves that the people they knew who worked in the World Trade centre were ok. Everyone seemed to know someone who worked in the towers or lived nearby. The general sense of anxiety mixed with silence lasted all day and soaked into the future.

All flights in the US airspace were grounded. I never joined my friends in Greece, a small loss in the whole scheme of things. My parents, in Italy, had nowhere to stay because American tourists, unable to get home, were staying in the hotel rooms  my parents had  booked

That day changed my world

flashbulb memories
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2 bits of lovely banter on “flashbulb memories”

  1. James Sutherland writes:

    I had just landed – flying from Houston to Glasgow via Toronto, the overnight Air Canada flight. For some reason, my father was due to be flying to the UK with KLM via Schiphol that day; my brother was going to drive him up to the airport, put the local news on to check traffic – and immediately saw there would be no point setting off. Quite a few friends were worried – of course, most of them didn’t know my specific route or flight numbers, just that I was flying then; my brother knew I had a long stopover in Toronto, and how close that is to NY.

    I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out someone I had been at school with had started a new job with a bank there on Monday, Sept 10; no doubt he’d have been at work nice and early for his second day. Since then, I’ve seen many classmates and more recent friends deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, including the shock of turning on the news one day to see an embedded reporter with live footage of one schoolfriend patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah, and all the ones I know of have returned almost entirely unharmed. (One was wounded in Iraq, but not badly enough to stop him deploying to Afghanistan later!)

    I would guess a UK friend called you, worried, then worked out what time it would be in WA and hung up – I imagine we’ve both had that a few times. The closure of knowing would be nice, of course: one reason I love caller ID!



    wendy writes

    Thanks for sharing James,your story shows how personal, to so many people, the changes have been..



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