Some moments in life make such an impression that they stick with you.
Some are good like marriages, or births, or your first kiss...
But some are in your minds eye thanks to their impact and shock value.
September 9th 2001 is such a moment.
Following my buddy @davesusetty's blog on the matter, I thought I'd shed some light on how I lived that day, and the bizarre turn of events that went with it.
A group of 7 actors and a director gathered that day, to watch disaster movies.
I was one of the actors.
We were preparing a play based on a book that had been written in the '60's by economists; in which they predicted the future in terms of economy, population growth, environmental issues and...humanitarian disasters.
The idea was to pair the findings of the book, with disaster movies; analyze them, mirror the finds with reality and create a multi-medial play with our findings.
For weeks we had been reading and painstakingly analyzing the meaty material presented in the book, having heated discussions about it, and slowly but steadily coming to the shocking realization that the predictions had actually been correct...for the most part.
That week, however, we had finally started to watch us some juicy movies.
A welcome relief after all the economics.
We saw '80's movies about plane crashes, earthquakes and even "Volcano".
Again, we discussed them fanatically.
Were these realistic scenario's in any way?
That day, we gathered in a small and dirty attic room of the theatre where we were to perform the play, crashed down on the old battered sofa's and chairs that stood there, and watched yet another couple of movies.
They were "Airport" and "Earthquake in New York".
We laughed through the movies, watching scenes that looked very unrealistic to us.
And then we discussed whether this was a plausible scenario.
The group consensus was that people really don't react that way during a major crisis, that it was exaggerated for dramatic emphasis, and that really all the movies we'd seen so far were funny because of this. Plus; what were the odds in NY? It isn't constructed on any fault-line, is it?
Then we walked to the station, on our way to the city where our school was located, chatting animatedly about the movies we just saw, and carrying bags full of papers filled with notes, and of course the big economic predictions book.
But the streets were strangely quiet...
Then, one of my fellow actors got a text message.
It said that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York.
At first we thought it was a joke: hadn't we just seen the Twin Towers collapse in the movie we just saw? And didn't we see dramatics on a '70's passenger plane?
Didn't people know we were working on this project?
Nah, this was definitely a joke.
"Ha ha, lame joke", she texted back.
And then we walked past a shop, where everybody was staring at a T.V. screen....
On the screen we saw how real this message had been.
In disbelief we stared at the T.V.
How could this be?
Had there been an accident?
It HAD to have been an accident, right?
Then a second plane crashed into the 2nd tower.
Not an accident then.
We looked at each other in shock.
Reality was mirroring fiction, and it wasn't fun.
Everybody was quietly staring at the screen.
Gasps filled the air.
Tears flowed down cheeks.
And when the towers fell...."Earthquake in New York" suddenly became reality....
A few days later the project was cancelled by the director. He felt too emotional to continue with it.
Years later, on the 11th of March 2004, my cousin was supposed to take the early morning commute train to her work, in Madrid.
That day, however, she overslept...
Some of her friends didn't...
And ended up with severe injuries;
Terrorists had simultaneously exploded 10 bombs on 4 busy commuter trains near Madrid, between 7:36 and 7:40 A.M that morning.
191 people died, and 1.858 were injured....
Images of September 9th kept coming back to me, as I watched the images on the news in horror.
The phone lines to and from Madrid went dead for a few hours, as people desperately tried to call their loved ones.
Nobody knew if my cousin had survived the attack, we all feared the worst.
Then, around midday, we finally had word: she hadn't been on the train.
I've never felt so relieved in my life.
Moments that stick with you, forever....