Too close for comfort by
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I was sleeping late on September 11, 2001.  My sister and I had sent our aging mother off to my sister’s home in Pennsylvania, and she and I were cleaning up Mom’s house in Bethesda, Maryland, to get it ready to sell.  We were exhausted from our work the previous day.  I was sound asleep when my sister came into the room and told me I had better get up and see what was happening on TV.  To my horror, I saw that both of the Twin Towers had been hit.  I had lived close to New York City for many years and had eaten at Windows on the World and The Cellar in the Sky several times and attended corporate parties in those buildings.  I loved the whooshing feeling of going up the elevators, and seeing the view from the windows was spectacular.  It was devastating and heartbreaking to see them fall and to realize how many people had lost their lives.

Events were too close for comfort on that day.

As we sat glued to the TV, we heard lots of noise and went outside to see what was happening.  Military helicopters were going overhead, flying low.   There had been reports on the local TV stations about explosions at the National Mall and also at the Pentagon, so it was not unrealistic to think that something more than the attack on the towers was going on.  My sister and I were considering leaving Bethesda and driving to her home in Pennsylvania “where nothing ever happens” when a news bulletin came on to say that a plane had crashed near Somerset, PA which is right where my sister lives at Indian Lake.  We jumped on the phone instantly and called Mom.  She said she heard a big boom and the house shook.  She went outside to look around but couldn’t see anything.  It turned out that Flight 93 crashed a little over a mile away from my sister’s house, much too close for our comfort.  Now, every time I visit my family, I see the signs for the memorial and am reminded of the sorrow of that day.

Profile photo of Cynthia Blanton Cynthia Blanton
Walter Johnson HS, Harvard undergrad, Harvard MBA, corporate strategy consultant, bank VP, jewelry designer, photographer, retired. Lived on a farm in Oklahoma; Granada Hills, CA; Bethesda, MD; Cambridge and Boston area; San Francisco and Bay Area; Incline Village, NV at Lake Tahoe; Westport, CT; Pelham Manor, NY; Toronto and Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and now I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico! (Photo: at lunch on rooftop restaurant in 2021)

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Tags: 9/11, plane crash, World Trade Center
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Oh, wow, Cynthia, that is indeed too close for comfort, if anything about that day could be considered comfortable. One of my closest friends was at Logan Airport in Boston with her son, waiting to board a flight home to San Francisco, when it happened. Her flight would have been the one right after the plane that hit the twin towers. Freaked out didn’t begin to describe how we felt.

    • A friend of ours flew from Logan to Washington, DC that morning. He got off the plane and saw everybody watching TV. When he realized what happened he tried to call his wife to tell her he was OK, but all the circuits were busy and he couldn’t get through. His family was terrified that his was one of the planes that had been hijacked. It was hours before he could get through to them. Truly awful.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Goodness, Cynthia, you have so many connections to that day, between the World Trade Center and your mother living a mile from where United 93 went down…all too close for comfort. I live close to Boston; my husband was a management consultant who flew out of Logan (the origin of two of the flights) the night before and was a mile from the Pentagon that day. It was harrowing for all of us.

  3. You’ve captured images of the national terror and your more personal terror quite vividly in two compact paragraphs. Well done.

  4. Suzy says:

    Omg, sending your mother off to your sister’s house “where nothing ever happens” and then this happened! Plus your prior experience of going to restaurants and parties in the Twin Towers, and being in Bethesda, not so far from the Pentagon. . . . All these connections definitely made it too close for comfort! Thanks for this story. Hope you’ll read some of the other 9/11 stories here when you have a chance.

  5. Too close indeed Cynthia and well-written.

    I have two stories for this prompt about what I experienced in New York that awful week.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    I can only imagine how you felt having Flight 93 crash so close to where your family lived. Today is a sad reminder of the terror we all felt that day.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Your personal connections to the attack sites are intense and well-told. I also noticed a lot of geographic and educational connections to my own path (Bethesda, Harvard, SF Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, Canada) though I don’t think we ever met. Thanks for your story—such clear and intense memories of that traumatic time.

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