Oddly enough, I was in Carlisle, a town about 25 miles northwest of Boston, during the 9/11 terror attacks. I had taken a new job that year and was getting ready for my last day of training at a beautiful facility off a rural road. When I pulled into the parking lot a young guy who was also being trained asked if I'd heard that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. I hadn't. My radio must have been off during the drive, probably because it was such a beautiful day and I'd rolled the windows down to feel the fresh country air and didn't want any unnatural sounds to disturb the moment.
We went inside and were joined by the others, maybe seven trainees and our instructor. Moments later someone from the facility stuck their head in and told us about the second plane. Of course, everyone knew what that meant. I think we went back into the lobby to watch the news coverage for a bit, then went back to start our training. We stopped a couple times to decide whether or not to continue on -- especially after the towers fell -- but decided that we'd rush through and get out as soon as possible. A television was wheeled in for a bit and we kept tabs on what was happening, and we did break so that everybody could call their loved ones, and I knew I'd better call my mother or she'd be worried sick.
The training over, we went our separate ways, and I never saw any of those people again. We'd be working for the same organization, but at different facilities, and I've always felt it strange that I spent the most awful moments of my country's recent history in a place I didn't know very well with people I didn't know very well.
And stranger still, I drove back not to East Boston, but to Somerville, where I had moved just 11 days earlier. I had two roommates and one of them was sitting on the front stairs, crying, when I got home. I barely knew her, but Paula's fiance was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles from Logan Airport on business that morning. She had, just before I arrived, found out that he was not on either of the LA-bound planes that had been hijacked, but on a different flight and was, therefore, fine. I consoled her as best I could, and then went inside to put on the TV and my computer, so I could finally get connected to the information stream -- something I like to do during important events.
The next morning I went out early to get copies of The Globe, The Herald and The New York Times. I'd always saved historically significant newspapers and I needed to add editions from Sept. 12 to my collection.