Unlike many of our friends, I hadn’t actually known anybody in person who was on one of the planes, or in one of the buildings. Strangely, the closest I ever got to a victim was through real estate.
But this is Washington, and here you’re always in the middle of the news. My husband covered Flight 93 for the Washington Post, and our house near downtown Washington was only a few miles away from the Pentagon. (Yes, I admit it, I went there as soon as I could and as close I could get.) The shock, the pain and the anger have not been forgotten. They have changed the lives of many of us, and first of all those of the people who lost loved ones on that day.
In the big snow storm of 2003, I had clients who fell in love with a comfortable, charming old house in a great part of town. There was something magic to that house, and even though there were no pictures on the listing and DC’s streets weren’t maneuverable that week, several others were instantly bidding on the house as well.
We won, but we never got to meet the seller, a single guy who had fled town and moved to another city. He would only communicate through his lawyer--an unusual situation in a jurisdiction without mandatory attorney review.
There was the name of a woman on the public record as well, and the smallest bedroom had hand-painted Peter Rabbit murals all over. A divorce, we figured.
We were wrong, very wrong. The day before the closing —I was in the hospital having a baby--we learned that the wife had been on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Later, we saw her name on a local memorial list. The thought that she might have been pregnant with their first child made me sob.
The husband could not bear to come back.
My own baby died two days after the closing, and even though a more rational person might object, there was a symbolism to that which I couldn’t escape. The house, 9/11 and my son’s death are weirdly connected in my mind. The only picture anybody ever took of me during that pregnancy (after all, he was our third) was taken during the home inspection in that house. I still have it.
For complicated reasons, my then-clients and now friends never ended up living in the house. When we put it on the market again last year, I had the nursery painted in a neutral color, rationalizing that this would appeal to a wider range of buyers. And it did –the home was under contract before the first open house.
Secretely, though, I also wanted to cover up my feelings.
I am always fascinated with historic homes (and the history of homes). In a way, this Washington house is a historic home now, even though the tragic story of its one-time owners might get lost down the road.
This week, it has been 7 years since the Towers. I will say a prayer for the many people whose lives have been changed (or ended) on that day.
© 2012, Catarina Bannier