Welcome to Angela's new blog! Learn how Pearl Jam helped Angela feel safe after the tragedy in New York City on September 11, 2001.

Uniquely Yours, 

001: “We’re Safe Tonight” by Angela DiMarco

To know me is to know that I am a huge Pearl Jam fan. It started back in September of 1992 when I was home for my Uncle John’s funeral (that is a story in and of itself and for another time.) I was at a dive bar in Long Beach, NY and, while in such emotional pain that night, I leaned on the jukebox and played Pearl Jam’s two songs “Alive” and “Black” over and over and over again. The angst and emotion in Eddie Vedder’s voice connected with the angst and pain I was feeling inside. I was a true GenX girl and didn’t outwardly express my emotions, so in a sense, Pearl Jam’s music became my bestie through all my life experiences that followed. 

 

Fast forward to New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was living in a cool apartment tucked away on a tiny side street between the South Street Seaport and the World Trade Center. I was getting ready for my job at an advertising agency in midtown when the first plane hit the tower. It sounded like a garbage truck had smashed into our building, and being that this was New York City, I thought nothing of it. Our windows faced the seaport and Long Island City, so it wasn’t until I turned on the local news channel NY1 and saw what really happened just four blocks away. 

 

As my roommate and I watched the news, the second plane hit the other tower. We decided to go to our roof to see if this was actually real. From that vantage point, we saw the black smoke billowing out of both buildings. We talked with some Wall Street kids who were drinking beers and celebrating having a day off from work. One kid had a burnt piece of paper and was exclaiming that it was his souvenir, while another told him, “Shut up, So-and-So’s dad is up there.” There was a man screaming to God asking to save all the souls or something. It was all quite surreal.

 

Then the first tower fell.

 

I had never felt such terror, such feelings of helplessness, of loss, of well, straight up fear. There were no rational thoughts. It seemed as if the second tower would timber down right onto us. I joined that man and screamed out to God to save us. My roommate dragged me back into our apartment just as the black cloud of smoke enveloped our building.

 

Somehow my grandfather was able to get through on our landline and he told us to fill the bathtub with water and put wet towels in all the window sills, and to move anything glass to the floor. Our electricity didn’t go out so we were able to watch the second tower fall on TV and knew that we were ‘safe’ from getting crumbled, but then the rumors started about gas mains blowing up underneath us, the whole country being under attack, etc. The information presented to us was pure anarchy.

 

In the afternoon, maybe around 2pm, we came up with a game plan to walk up to Chelsea (another neighborhood in the city) and convene with others at a friend’s apartment. So we packed our necessities, put bandanas over our faces and headed out into the cloud of smoke speckled with diffused emergency vehicle lights, stunned, soot-laden people and first responders guiding us around the giant footprint of destruction. We made our way to Chinatown where we could see the cobalt blue sky clear of all clouds except for the plume coming from where we just came from. People were going about their day as if nothing happened and we pressed on in silence trying to process what we just experienced. 

 

It felt like a really bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from. In the days and weeks that followed, my PTSD set it. I had worked on a high floor in a building on 50th St. and 3rd Ave., and just going up to my office had me on edge. Every actual garbage truck I heard rolling over a metal plate in the street nearly sent me to my knees. I went through the motions because that is what we did, right? I didn’t talk about my feelings because, well, that’s what I also was a master at — bottled it all up inside and put a big, “I’m fine!” smile on my face — my go-to mask.

 

Roughly a year prior, I had heard that Pearl Jam had a very tragic experience of their own. Some people died at one of their shows and songs were written to help them heal from that experience. One of their songs titled “I am Mine” had come out just prior to 9/11/01 and was playing on the radio. When I was sitting in my office on that high floor suppressing the never-ending panic attack, hearing Eddie Vedder’s voice sing the lyrics “We’re safe tonight” was truly the only thing that made me feel okay in that moment. It was the only moment that I felt any sense of comfort, so I played it as much as I could. 

 

Time went on and I survived the best way I could. My high school sweetheart was one of the missing and going to his funeral six or seven weeks after the towers fell brought on a whole new set of emotions to overcome, including survivor’s guilt, regret and heartbreak. With time, therapy, and a whole bunch of unhealthy survival tactics, I pressed on, but that song, that lyric was my go-to for a quick, temporary hit of feeling safe.

 

Two years later in 2003, Pearl Jam played a show at Madison Square Garden in NYC and I was fortunate enough to be in the sixth row (thanks to my extreme, ultra dorkiness for being in the fan club since 1994!) I am sure you can imagine that if that one lyric helped me, how much their other songs spoke to my lonely soul. Seeing the band live and being bathed in the energy of the fans and the music has been amongst some of my most treasured experiences, where I’ve felt I could be completely and authentically myself, dancing like a fool and singing at the top of my lungs until my throat ached.

 

At this particular show, I really wanted to thank the band in some way for helping me through that trauma two years prior. At previous shows, Eddie had asked people to put down signs they had made because the signs were blocking the fans behind it from seeing the stage, and he was always considerate to create a positive experience for all the fans. So, I chose to write “We’re Safe Tonight” on my arms with a black sharpie marker (yes, I hear myself as I type this, but whatever! I’m going full frontal on Uniquely Yours!) When they started playing the chorus of “I am Mine” I stood on my chair or had my brother hold me up and when I caught Eddie’s eyes seeing me and nodding in acknowledgement, that closed the loop on that for me with a perfect, rockin’ bow.

 

For the past 21 years on this calendar day of September 11, my MO has been to watch the reading of the names on the local news and take the moments of silence, and reflect on the lives lost and lives changed—a yearly day of silently mourning in my own way. 

 

But this year is different. This Sunday, September 11, 2022, I am going to see Pearl Jam play MSG in NYC once again. This is my opportunity to transmute this calendar day into a day of celebration, into a day of being proud of my overcoming, my growth and my feeling safe. I will not be writing lyrics on my arms this time—in all fairness it’s because my seats are just too far from the stage…and I AM 48 years old—but I will be with my favorite grown-up (hubby Dave), watching my favorite band play my favorite music that will be washing over me and through me. I even get to see an old college friend before the show! My excitement for this show on Sunday is so beyond just seeing Pearl Jam play again. It’s a true expression of how amazing and how extraordinary this life I am living really is. Rock on! \m/,

 

Uniquely Yours,

Angela

 

Uniquely Yours, is a new blog that allows me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with anyone who wishes to read along. I really find such joy in connecting with people through relatable stories, so please comment and share your thoughts so I can get to know you! If there is one thing I’ve learned since my grungy, GenX youth, it’s that we are all in this life experience together, so let’s help lift one another up. This is not a space for polarizing or negative commentary, so I will unapologetically delete anything that gives me the ick. This is especially true of this article. I do not wish to engage in conspiracy theories or agendas. My sole intention here is to share an experience as I experienced it. Nothing more.

This became a ritual for other shows on the tour. This is taken from outside the State College gig in Pennsylvania, 2003 or 2004.

I was truly a class act for many years post 9/11. Here I am giving George Bush’s helicopter the middle finger from the Brooklyn Bridge 16 years ago. 

Connect with Uniquely U. Founder/CEO Angela DiMarco and other amazing humans on FindUniquelyU.com — a platform dedicated to uplift, inspire and ignite sparks by connecting with a global community.

 

About FindUniquelyU.Com

Based on Long Island (Bayport, NY) with team offices located in Stuart, Florida and Chicago, Illinois, and in partnership with Scopic Software. Uniquely U. is a subscription-based educational technology platform that provides real-time, online, intimate workshops and experiences for people aged 10-99+ worldwide. Workshops and events are hosted virtually by an ever-growing roster of inspiring U-Instructors based around the world. Areas of discipline include Metaphysics, Creative Expression, Empowerment, Community, and Integrative Wellness. Additional key features of the platform include a social network, virtual event center, library, directory of goods and services, and store. Uniquely U. nurtures the development of new U-Instructors who contribute inspiring content for the community. FindUniquelyU.com

 

Read the Uniquely U. Launch Press Release. For Uniquely U. press inquiries, contact Paul Muto of Muto Communications via email at paul@mutocomm.com or phone at +1 516-662-5374.

 

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2 Responses

    1. Thank you so much, Jackie — being real is my favorite thing to be! Thank you for reading and for being a part of our magical team! ~Angela

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