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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at


All of this, this being the column that I have been writing for, started as an e-mail I sent to friends at the end of week
of 9/11. It was my answer to all those who wanted to know how I was doing
that week.

I wrote that first e-mail the night of 9/14, the night I was supposed to have
been on an Olympic Airlines flight to Athens with connections on to
Santorini, one of my favorite places on earth. Of course, we didn’t go. We
couldn’t fly out of New York; we couldn’t fly into Athens. The world was…in
the thrall of 9/11. A major event had happened to all of us but we had no
way, yet, of assimilating it all. We had no idea how we were going to move
forward, physically or psychologically.

My god, but the wounds were fresh!

Somehow, that e-mail found its way to Hal Eisner, who then, God love him,
asked me if I would do this on a regular basis for about
what it was like to be a New Yorker living through all of this.

And I am a New Yorker, living through all of this. My brother, whom I love
deeply, phoned me and expressed his sorrow that I was in New York when this

I shocked him by letting him know that if I had to be ANYWHERE, I would have
wanted to be here. I would have wanted to be where it was all happening.

I was.

My life is shaped, going forward, by having been in New York that day. All
of our lives are that way. But those of us who were in New York, well, our
lives have the particular flavor of having been at the epicenter. There is
no one in America that is immune from that day but it is special, unique,
desperately so, for those who were in New York and who experienced that day.

I will, until the day I die, know what it was like to struggle to get back
downtown to my own apartment the night of 9/11. Because to get home I had to
go through three separate police lines on my slow way back downtown, through
crowds of frightened, curious people while sirens screamed and hundreds of
trucks began, that night, to haul away the debris. I will always remember
the slow surrendering of hope that came in that week that anyone else was
going to emerge alive from the rubble.

I will, until the day I die, still smell the acrid, dark, burning smell of
Manhattan that day and the weeks following. Until I die, certain things will
suddenly cause tears to come to my eyes. A part of me will live forever,
frozen in the moment, on the corner of West Broadway and Spring, seeing the
first Tower burn while sobbing, shocked people streamed north to safety.

A part of me will never walk down Sixth Avenue without seeing the thousands
of flyers for missing persons that were never going to be found.

That I would be a New Yorker is strange to me. I had never really planned on
living here. But here I am. And because of 9/11, there is no one in the
country who is not, in some way, a New Yorker.