I was getting ready for work. It was the most beautiful sunny day. I dropped you off at your abuelos and there was not a single cloud in the sky. My morning ritual… an AM phone conversation with your Tia Josie as I drove into work. It was our daily catch up, check in and gossip about what was happening on TV, the soaps or in the entertainment world. She was watching Good Morning America when there was interruption. "Yo Lee, a plane just went into one the twin towers," she said.
“Get the fuck out of here out!”
We started to immediately come up with our own scenarios of what happened. I said, “may be one of the pilots had a seizure.”
Josie was trying to make sense out of all of it. I was changing the radio station hoping there would be something being reported describing what was happening in my beloved New York City. After a few more moments of our rambling, she said, "OH MY GOD!!! Another plane just crashed into the towers," all I remember saying was, "We're under attack!!!"
I arrived to the office and my boss hadn’t heard the news yet. We all ran to a conference room and turned on the TV. I said to my boss, “Look if one more thing happens I am going home to my daughter.” Only a few moments later did we hear that a third plane crashed into the Pentagon. The Pentagon! Are you fucking kidding me? This was not a TEST!!! I left work as quickly as I could. I called your abuelo and told him he needed to leave work. He said he couldn’t. I told him that he needed to. “Does your job understand what is happening in New York? Leave work now!” I’m not sure if he even spoke to you about what was happening. I rushed home and there you were sucking your little fingers. I just held you tight. Abuelo and abuela had the news on. And for that entire evening and the weeks that followed we watched the towers fall over and over and over and over and over and over again.
On that beautiful Tuesday morning, in front of the backdrop of a magnificent blue sky all we could see was a thick dark gray cloud of smoke that extended for miles coming out of the side of the towers. Over 3,000 people died that day… they were mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends… black, white, Jewish, Hindu, Asian, Latino… everyone in the world lost someone that day even if they didn’t know someone personally. We sat and watched both towers collapse in two hours. We cried. We were frightened. We didn’t know what to do. The house was silent. We knew that everyone on the flights that hit the towers died on impact. People were jumping out of the windows from the 90th floor. My girlfriend called me frantic saying that her best friend worked in the towers. They never found her body. That moment woke up an entire nation. That day changed the way New Yorkers treated each other. Hands were extended from unlikely place… love was felt—at least for a little while… until… any person wearing a turban started being discriminated against. 9/11 changed the lives of many but it would mark me forever.
October 3, 2001
It was two weeks after 9/11 happened and we were all still feeling the aftermath of that devastating day. While people lost loved ones… the rest of the world seemed to get closer to those still here with us. You were eight years old when the towers came down. I’m not sure you understood what had just taken place in NYC. I don’t think you fully could grasp that what just took place did not just happen to New York. The residue of that day was in the air and felt all over the world.
After September 11th happened I felt this urgency to get my life together. I just turned 30 years old only two months prior. When those planes came down I became desperate. I was experiencing this sense of urgency. It was a matter of life and death for me to figure out my life. I started questioning where I was in my life and who I am. I realized that my life felt insignificant, unimportant. I felt that I wasn’t contributing anything to the world. I believed that my life was of no value. No worth. We were lying in bed together reading. You were wrapped up in a Nancy drew story and I was reading a book on writing titled, Writing from Personal Experience.
I started to wonder about things like… what would people say about me after I leave this place? How will I be remembered? I started to get scared. I was questioning everything I had done and not done. What have I contributed to the earth? What will I leave you with besides debt and rumors of promiscuity? “Que tu madre era una locita.” What was I born to do? What is my legacy? Who am I? Where have I been? How would I want you to remember me? I decided that I would write you a memoir. That would be the legacy left for you a book filled with my life story—written for you. I had no intention on letting anyone read it.
I decided that I would document where I was for ten years. I was going to write it from 1991-2001. Since I had never written a book before I printed a calendar for ten years and started plugging in all the places I lived in, all the people I slept with, all the jobs I’d held. I wanted to give you a true account, an authentic story about where I’ve been. I wanted you to know about all my dirt, the many mistakes and bad choices. I certainly wanted to include all the fun I have had. I wanted you to know where I came from. I didn’t want someone else telling you their version of me. I wanted to tell you my story, my truth, so that you could form your own opinion about who your mother is. That night I began reading exactly how one goes about writing a book when the most amazing thing happened at 9:39pm. As I was reading I came across a line that talked about where one can find inspiration for writing and telling stories. This book was giving me all kinds of messages about material being found in everything and in that precise moment I had an epiphany… one of those LIFE ALTERING moments. On October 3, 2001 something I read jumped out at me… it was about, how even in our own lives there’s a story to be told… and in that moment I whispered to myself… OH MY GOD!!! I’m a writer!!! I AM A WRITER!!! I knew that moment was significant so I made sure to write down the date and time of that experience. I looked over to you and said, “Baby mommy’s a writer!”
You just looked at me with this glow in your eyes… like you were looking at your sheroe. All you said was, “I know mommy… I know… you’re gonna write me a book”
No honey. You don’t understand – I AM… A WRITER!!!
“I know mommy… we’re gonna be rich and you’re gonna buy me a big house with a McDonalds and a Carvel inside…”
I just laughed… you didn’t get it. For me that moment would mark me. That moment would change the direction of my life forever.
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