Fearless Writing Challenge, Day 36: New York circa 1997



Of course, I remember where I was and what I was doing on this morning 16 years ago. I had left home on my way to work. I was driving up our long driveway and had just turned on NPR, like I did every morning as I began my hour-long commute to work.

By the time I got half way up the hill the reports of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center had become the audio to a horror film as the clearly shaken Morning Edition hosts began to realize and report that the tragic “accident” may actually have been deliberate.

I called home, to my husband who was home with our 8-month-old daughter and his grown daughter who was visiting from Washington and told him to turn on the TV.

I continued my drive into work, not yet knowing the severity of the morning’s events and how they would morph into the horrific life-changing event we now remember.

I’m not sure on the timing, or if my memory is accurate, but when I arrived at work we all gathered around a television and watched as the towers fell.

We were stunned and in shock.

We noticed the silence in the air as conversations stopped. I worked on a community college campus, so silence was a rarity.

We noticed the lack of airplanes overhead – normally so many traveling to the nearby airport in San Jose.

Eventually, we were officially sent home, though some had already left, the desire to be close to loved ones palpable and undeniable.

As I have for the past few years on this day, I share with you a poem I wrote before the events of 9/11.

It speaks to me about loss and change and the hidden hurts that affect the course of our lives.



New York, circa 1997


The photo is of you and me, 

bundled against the elements, saltwater 

spraying us as we bounce across the harbor

on a ferry smaller than we had expected.


We smile at the camera you are holding out 

in front of us, your other hand 

around my shoulder, 

steadying me.


Behind us, slightly 

out of focus,  is the 

New York skyline

the way it used to be.


Twin Towers 

side by side


we thought then.


We didn’t know

I would soon leave you, 

my unhappiness, hidden

like a bruise slowly spreading 

under the skin of my heart.


We didn’t know

as much about 

ourselves or the world

as we thought we did 

when we began this journey.


©Jessica Johnson

2 thoughts on “Fearless Writing Challenge, Day 36: New York circa 1997

    1. It certainly was a watershed moment, wasn’t it? I thought things would be different than they are 16 years down the road, that’s for sure.


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