1. What moment in your life made you think, “After that, life was never the same."
My husband and I lived in a loft three blocks north of the World Trade Center. We lived there for over 20 years and were there for the first bombing in 1993 and for 9/11. i had spent the weekend with my husband in Los Angeles, were he was scheduled to give a speech on Tuesday 9/11. I arrived back in NY at home at 2 am on Tuesday 9/11, 2001. Our Weimaraner was in a kennel in Westchester.
I woke up around 7, 7:30 am and then got in my car and drove to 18th St to pick up edited copy that I needed for a meeting later that day. Got back home, parked the car, then due to being total exhausted, debated which bank to go to- the one across the street from City Hall, or the one in the WTC. Went to City Hall. Back at home, listened to voice mails and heard. what sounded like a plane speeding up that then went THUD. It sounded like it crashed on the other side of the WTC, south of it. I figured I would wait until I heard the sirens before I went downstairs to see what was going on. But it seemed like the sirens were taking a while to arrive. I was sure they arrived quicker in 1993.
So, i went downstairs and glanced left to see almost all of my neighbors and a few strangers standing together on the corner of West Broadway looking up. I said to one neighbor: small plane? And one of the no -neighbors said: "Commercial plane. American." It took a me a day or two to translate what she said, and she was totally correct. It wasn't a small plane, it WAS a commercial plane, an American airlines plane. Having been around for the first bombing of the WTC, most of us in the neighborhood expected another attack. So we knew it was a terrorist attack.
This story continues as my neighbors and I spoke of our concerns, waiting to see what would happen next. And then it did. Second plane hit.
IRL there's lot's more to this. But...
Life was never the same. We were evacuated from our home for five weeks. We were not permitted into our apartment during the evacuation unless we were alone - not my husband and me, but just one of us - accompanied by a member of the army, the national guard or the NYPD. If you did not get to the area to meet the armed guards at the exact time they were escorting residents to their homes, you didn't get in that day. And you were only permitted in your apartment with the guard for three minutes, no more. You could only take what you could carry in your hands- no bags - or they would accuse you of looting.
Unpleasant to live without your medication, a laptop computer, because you couldn't take a big computer, per the guards, makeup, clothing, etc.
So, why was life never the same:
I became a practicing Buddhist because I was so frustrated and angered by war and terrorism, our government and the actions they took. It seemed to be the best way to deal with what I saw and experienced.
Our neighborhood looked like Vienna at the end of WW II. Our backyard: the WTC, was gone. Buildings that people never saw on TV because the press was kept a long way away, were damaged beyond repair, and many were torn down. The collateral damage was intense. Living there was challenging. What happened to the people who worked in mall underneath the buildings? The young woman who served me my daily coffee on my way to the gym? What happened to all the people who worked at the gym, who checked me in, who ran the classes, my trainers?
More important, it made me understand why so many did not leave Poland, or Germany even though they knew the Nazis would be sending them to their death in the camps. This was my home. My friends. My neighbors. My community. The shoe repair man. The dry cleaner. The tiny Vietnamese sandwich counter that grew to be a lovely neighborhood restaurant. The local Mexican place on the corner that also went from small to large, to larger.
I was always a fighter, and I was not going to let terrorists drive me from my home, even though, to this day, 20 years later, I still believe someone will return to bomb the new buildings there.
We stayed for five more years and then moved miles away, still in NYC, but as far from downtown as possible. I loved that neighborhood and the community because we had been pioneers. The rebuilding made it into something it wasn't, something that wasn't our neighborhood. So things were never the same...
There is bad, good, and so-so from life never being the same...
My business was destroyed, as it too, was in the area, and I had to make the decision to rebuild it to 30 employees or choose to keep it much smaller.
I chose to keep it small so I could do more of the things that I enjoyed about the work.
I remained married, even though we dealt with enormous emotional and financial stress and tough times due to not being able to live in our own home, not being able to go to or even do my business for many, many months.
I've had to deal with one of the illnesses that befell many of us who worked or lived at or near the site. No, Im not going to die from it, and I do not receive money from the fund.
Our dog was fine in the kennel, I was able to pick him up on 9/12 and he provided lots more unconditional love. Then, one week after we moved back in, while walking him, I fell on some of the leftover 9/11 debris, and broke my ankle.
I continue to practice Buddhism.
And the apartment we live in now has an amazing view of the Hudson and NJ.
2. What do you do when you don't know what to do?
Usually, I like to clear my mind and then sleep on it. If it requires more than a night or two of sleep, then I'll get in the car, alone, and go for a ride: perhaps to Shelter Island, perhaps to Coney Island, Rockaway or City Island. Wherever there's water nearby. Then go for a walk on the beach. Or the boardwalk, Or sit at a restaurant and contemplate the bay. Or, just go for a walk in town wherever/whenever it's quiet, which usually means something like Wall Street on a Sunday, or early in the morning.
3. What would you do if you had the whole day to yourself?
Stay in bed. Read a book. Binge-watch something on one of the streaming services, or watch a couple of movies. Listen to music - not just have it on in the background, not sing a long with it, but really listen to it. Not look at emails, or texts, or social media. Not answer the phone.
4. What is the best thing about being a woman?
Being a woman.
5. What’s the one piece of clothing you can’t live without?
My burgundy Yohji Yamamoto parachute pants. They are incredibly comfortable, the color is a rich, dark, earthy brown burgundy, there's a front zipper even though the waist is elasticized. The bottom of each pants leg and the waist have drawstrings that don't tie, but have an adjustable metal closure. There are size pockets with zip closures.
The fabric is parachute nylon. Very simple, but the shape is so extraordinary... not balloon, not banana, even though the bottom of the pants can be as wide or as tight as you like. They're incredibly flattering. Whenever i wear them, so many women stop me in the street to say how much they like them. The best thing is that I purchased them ten years ago on eBay for $50. I've located other Yohji pants on eBay in the same shape, but not in the same fabric.
And i did buy them in several colors. So, these pants have everything I could want: flattering shape and style, great color, tech-y fabric, amazingly comfortable, get me lots of compliments, not seen on anyone else, long lasting and super inexpensive.