BENEFITING: Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation
EVENT: New York City 2014
EVENT DATE: Sep 28, 2014
I first ran this race to honor that day and shed my fear of being in that tunnel and the memories that would come back with that journey... since then this organization has also been a part of the relief effort in my Red Hook neighborhood in the days post sandy as we struggled to recover as a community. Their efforts and spirit are inspriring and after a two year hiatus I am back and will take those steps through that tunnel once again with such pride. Who's with me?!
ten years ago...
I was stuck in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
It was the most beautiful morning. A Tuesday. My old business partner & I had just had a hugely successful weekend of weddings. We had bought ourselves each a new pair of shoes the day before. After deciding on a later than usual start to the day we were walking to get the shop van to head into the flower market, in our new shoes, relishing in the gorgeous day.
We went through the toll booths. I remember noticing some smoke and commented on it but we shrugged it off and carried on into the tunnel to the flower market. About ¾ of the way through we stopped. & sat. it seemed like forever… I don’t know how long it really was. There was no radio or cell phone signal. People from the commuter busses had gotten off and started walking towards Manhattan as we were close to the end of the tunnel. It was strange but we were chatting about who knows what now… passing the time until we saw a wall of people running toward us. I remember someone saying get out now.. I am not sure if it was in my head, if she said it or it came out of my mouth… but we did.. we left – we flung the doors open before the people got to our vehicle and we started running….we left everything.
There were cars, & then there weren’t.
Then there were firemen running passed us toward Manhattan as we ran toward Brooklyn.
There were people with water. We were covered in a light film of ash. We had no idea what was happening.
There was a construction trailer and some guys let us in, we used their phone to call our parents.. I don’t event remember speaking. I don’t remember when I was told what was happening.
I remember walking. We walked in our new shoes that we had just run out of the tunnel in all the way back to 7th avenue. I remember walking across union street and some guys on a loading dock standing there looking at us as we passed.
We went and put the gate down at the shop on 7th avenue and continued walking home.
I remember standing in the shower and letting the water wash over me. I remember the gray in the tub. I don’t remember anything else.
Five years later. I threw those shoes away. I never wore them again…but they were there, in the box they came in… they even moved with me to a new apartment. And then I let them go.
It took me years to go through the tunnel again. I honestly don’t remember the first time I did after that… but I do remember the first time I put my feet on that same pavement running the Tunnel to Towers run 4 years ago. That was the moment.
I ran - by my choice - back into the tunnel…and I have every year since.
I don’t know if Stephen Siller & I ran past each other that day but there is a pretty good chance we did.
I still have never watched the news footage, I cannot listen to the reports, I do not talk about that day. Some people ask. I give a quick recap and then change the conversation. I’ve gotten really great at the ‘where were you that day’ segway... but here is my experience to share without me having to say it out loud… somehow writing is easier.
Wondering about the van? A lot of people ask. Somehow the girl that worked for us at the time went and got it back from somewhere – I don’t remember when, where or how, she just made it happen… I vaguely remember that she went and had it washed and cleaned… I don’t know, it’s all a blur. I just remember that she took care of it. I don’t know where she is now but - Karen who had just moved here from Alaska if you are reading this... thank you.