Ten years ago today the world changed; I changed. In the morning I thought I knew the world, international relations and conflict; by the evening I knew that everything I had known was invalid.
Here's my story of 9/11 from a sleepy town in England.
Ten years ago I worked in Henley on Thames. It was a tiny company of four of us and myself and the two assistants were in the office. The morning passed as normal, me writing a report from a workshop the day before, the girls happily chatting whilst they typed and filed and organised things. We were all busy and somehow forgot to go out to get our lunches at the normal time.
At almost 2pm Anni decided she could wait for lunch no longer and went out to buy something. She was gone longer than normal and when she came back into the office was white as a sheet.
I remember her saying "a plane has flown into the twin towers in New York."
I couldn't take it in and of course I assumed it was a tragic accident. But she kept saying it wasn't an accident and we needed to turn on the radio. We turned it on and the three of us sat in stunned silence as we heard the news.
Attack on US soil for the first time ever
And then another plane hit!
If life had shifted a bit after the first plane, it jumped to a completely different place altogether when the second plane hit.
The emotions flooded through me;
A country I had no particular affection for and a city I didn't know had suffered the most immense loss; of course I'd feel sadness and empathy for the victims and their families, but it was more than that.
All three of us new life would never be the same again.
After trying to decide what to do for an hour we gave up any idea of work and we all went home. I had to switch off the radio in the car, I couldn't drive listening to the reports. Even so I had to stop half way home and just sobbed as the emotions overwhelmed.
By the time I got home the fear was extraordinary; London might be next, or Paris or Berlin. And where was Mike? In the city of London! I couldn't get hold of him, mobile phone systems were overwhelmed. So I watched the news and prayed London wouldn't be attacked.
For four hours I watched the news with tears streaming down my face. And when Mike came home we kept watching through the evening knowing that he had colleagues in those towers.
The world stopped for us that day; it stopped as we watched, but more than that, it stopped it's normal trajectory forever and took a new course of fear and religious intolerance.
Today as I remember where I was ten years ago I pray for those who died, those who were injured, those who mourn; and I pray that we can find a way to stop terrorism in our world.
I'll never forget where I was on 9/11; it will stay with me forever. And that's no bad thing!