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Lance Simmens Headshot

Some Memories Will Never Fade Away

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11 years ago yesterday I was awakened by incessant sirens piercing the New York City morning. Even for New York the sounds seemed oddly out of place and extraordinary. Nineteen floors above Lexington Avenue at 50th Street the noise was palpable. Since I had a late morning meeting I had decided to sleep off jet lag from the cross-country flight I had taken the day before and was in no hurry to awaken any sooner than I had to.

Upon turning on the television and witnessing a world suddenly turned upside down I was paralyzed for a good half hour. My immediate thoughts turned to my wife and two young sons whom I had left in Santa Monica just 24 hours ago. Despite the hour I phoned home and instructed my wife to keep the kids out of school that day. When she asked why I merely responded "because we are under attack."

The incongruity of the perfect autumn day and magnificent azure sky juxtaposed against the billowing smoke rising from the tip of the island captured the ying and yang of life itself. Walking down Lexington Avenue, not on the sidewalk but actually down the street, towards Times Square was a trip down a surreal void, time and life stood still.

It took me five days to get home and the hugs were especially warm and long. As we bounded on a New Jersey Transit train south towards Philadelphia, with faces pressed against the window watching the Manhattan skyline, sorely damaged on one end, seemingly listing under the weight of the damage that had been inflicted upon it, the fade out seemed to take forever, as if in a slow-motion Peckinpah film, and then somewhere near Elizabeth it simply vanished from sight. But the searing sight would be forever etched into my memory and is there to this day.

And incredibly, magically, in ways that defy all emotion, life goes on...