September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday

Photo: Nil Taskin

In the wake of 9/11, my life unravelled in tandem with the chaos that gripped the world. I was faced with a jarring realization: a page had turned, ushering in a chapter of uncertainty and the daunting, yet necessary, quest for renewal.

Just 4 days before, I had left my job, or more accurately, the major media company I was working for had begun layoffs due to the economic crisis. I was one of the last ones to be let go…

On September 11, 2001, a Tuesday, I was at my mother’s home in Istanbul. As often was the case, CNN International was on in the background, and we saw the news of a plane hitting the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York. When the news of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center came, we realized the gravity of the incident we had just heard: America was under a brutal attack.

In the midst of the shock, I reached out to him to share the terrifying news that was shaking the world. I had called to share a significant event, but during our conversation, he seemed irritated, as if I had disrupted his enjoyable time with his friend and his friend’s wife. He even mentioned later that he thought I was talking about the World Trade Center located opposite the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul.

Just a few days earlier, on Friday, I had left my job at Doğan Media where I had worked since the fall of 1999. Turkey was facing an economic crisis again and was changing. Moreover, the media was entering a phase of accommodating the upcoming Islamist politicians and their like-minded new recruits. The person above me in position had recently divorced the mother of his two children to marry the single sister of someone with a higher position than him; after all, marrying the sister of Doğan Media’s CEO was a guarantee of a long-lasting career. Yes, I witnessed many bizarre occurrences like this in professional life, Byzantine games, and much more…

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9/11 reminds me of a history of lovelessness and alienation in my personal history, quite apart from the event itself. It reminds me of the feeling of never being able to truly connect, of the chilling distance felt when unable to share an event that, once heard, would forever be a pinpoint in time – where you were, what you were doing – with the person who should be the closest to you, a feeling that maintains its freshness even as years pass by.

For some time we had been like two strangers, unable to foster friendship, in a marriage where love had ceased. It was evident that one of the parties had started making their own plans. Our marriage was nearing its end in its first year…

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Just a year later, as November approached, an unsettling cloud of change loomed on the horizon. The imminent victory of Erdogan in Turkey’s general election threatened to usher in a new era, potentially exacerbating the existing troubles and altering our lives irrevocably for the worse.

In the midst of global and personal chaos, I knew it was time to take the reins of my life firmly in hand. A fresh start awaited, and I was poised to relocate, seeking renewed purpose and motivation to fuel my journey forward. Being born and raised in Istanbul, only New York, with its chaos and hustle, could distract me…

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As I navigate through a world in flux, a pivotal day stands sharply in focus, a day that marked not only a profound shift in the global landscape but also a watershed moment in my own life’s journey. Amidst the dark shadow of 9/11, my faltering marriage, and the political unrest stirring in Turkey, I find myself at a juncture grappling with the repercussions of career disillusionments and the harsh reality of a love that’s dissipated. These intertwined memories from that fateful day unveil a poignant tale of resilience and the quest for a fresh start, heralding a future fraught with uncertainty but also harboring a sliver of hope.


Nil Taskin