The Gift of A Lesson: 9/11/2001

1 World Trade Center (North Tower) as seen fro...
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Life is a series of lessons. The lessons often offer us a gift.  The gift may come at a price.

I would like to share my lesson with you.

My husband Mark and I met in the summer of 1984 in the summer beach town of Fair Harbor on Fire Island. One of the very first things he wanted to know about me was if I knew how to roller-skate. I told him I had red clip-ons when I was a kid and wore them everywhere. Even in the house, even when I rode my bicycle.

On our first date Mark took me to the Roxy roller-skating rink, New York’s home of roller-disco a members only club where Cher, Diane von Furstenberg, Andy Warhol, Liza Minella and Steve Rubell, the great Bill Butler and Elie Tahari also skated.

For our date, I wore a pair of red carpenter pants, white sleeveless tank top and my Suzy Chafee sneaker-style roller-skates that I bought at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street on sale in 1980 when I lived on East 32nd Street. My neighborhood was a furniture district by day, a red-light district at night.

It was the 80’s. Most of the women at the Roxy wore spandex, some from top to bottom. No one but me had on those red and blue Suzy Chafee sneaker skates.

Our relationship was seemingly founded upon our twin passions of roller-skating and watching the World Financial Center and Battery Park City being built. The complex  was built upon the immense landfill created from the debris and dirt excavated to create the great underground city beneath the World Trade Center. At first there was just a bunch of building skeletons on the site and we drove by so often as we left the Roxy on 18th and 10th.

As the months went by we saw the dawn of a city within a city. On a beautiful day Mark and I often liked to put on our skates and venture out to the ever-growing bike paths which were beginning to snake their way uptown past Art on the Beach and what would become Chelsea Piers.

On October 27, 1986, the day the Mets beat Boston to win the 7th game of the World Series Mark and I got married.

Shortly after our wedding   (that ended with us at the 7th game at Shea Stadium) I left my  job, went back to college to finish up a dangling 9 credits for my BBA, and applied to a Wall Street Temporary Agency that sent me on jobs in both the World Trade and World Financial Centers.

For 18 months, I watched the unfolding of a neighborhood and enjoyed New York at its most glorious with new restaurants and store openings and jazz Wednesdays in the Twin Towers Plaza, Kodo drum concerts under the palm trees in the Cesar Pelli designed Winter Garden, Alvin Ailey recitals, Norman Rockwell and Blue Dog exhibits, strolls to the marina for lunch, or to enjoy the sculpture and beauty of the space. It was the perfect place for me. Since I was a student again I worked with investment bankers who actually enjoyed helping me with statistics and International Finance.

One balmy summer evening in August  (2001)*, Mark and I skated along the Esplanade and had the place all to our selves. As always, we enjoyed the wonder of the complex anchored by those gigantic  Twin Towers with the Statue of Liberty across the Harbor watching over us.

It was a lovely moment with music playing in the background from a party boat docked at the World Financial Center marina.

Saturday September 8, 2001, was another of those delicious –end of summer-of-2001 days and we really didn’t have any commitments or plans, and we both wanted go into the city in the early evening because there was a free Twyla Tharp recital in the WTC plaza at 6:00 p.m.

And yet:  When friends called and wanted us to join them at the beach, it wasn’t that we didn’t love them, we’d just spent much of the summer at the beach and a week in Fire Island yet somehow felt we “should” go meet our friends.

But something kept telling Mark something different. He wanted to go to the World Trade Center Plaza to see Twyla Tharp.

Neither of us committed ourselves to it. We didn’t make a plan and we

were wishy-washy at best.

Then my brother called to say he wanted to meet us at the beach and have dinner with us.

Instead of saying “thank you, we’d love to see you, however we have other plans, we tried to figure out how to make everyone else happy.

We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or appear selfish, or something.

We went to the beach and then had dinner at home with my brother.

We had a “nice” time.  We both felt dissatisfied with our indecisiveness.  But we figured we could go another time.  We resolved to go the following Sunday  (9/16) to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the World Trade Center Plaza.

Then it was September 11th.

When we didn’t go to the World Trade Center Plaza we let it go by thinking it would still be there tomorrow.

Now we know tomorrow might never come.

Okay so he didn’t speak up.

What about me?

I asked myself what kept me from getting what I really wanted?

Old habits? Needing approval? Wanting to please everyone?

All of the above?

Yes and Yes!


I let old stories and tapes remove me from having what I wanted and I was being totally inauthentic.

There I was, not living in the moment. Not honoring what I value most.

Here is the gift of my lesson.

Get out of your own way.

Do it now.

Is there a life situation that you are holding onto that you no longer enjoy?

Take action and move yourself forward to having the life you want.

Do you say “yes” when you mean no?

Be present to You.

Who do you get to be? Right here. Right now.

Honor your intuition.

Pay attention to what the whispers of the heart are telling you, “go, do, be” and seize the moment because you truly never know the impact of not doing it.

Every action or inaction has consequences and what you make of your life is up to you.

Carpe Diem!

~Nancy Mindes, January 2002

A BIG Audacious HUG and KISS to you!

Originally published in the Fashion Group International Bulletin Special commemorative September 11th 2001EditionJanuary 2002

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