VIDEO: My dad was a sanitation worker for New York City. His message to me and my brothers was, when you turn 18, take whatever civil service test is available. Lucky for me, it was the Fire Department’s. I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do for a career, but at Engine 55 in Lower Manhattan, I found something even better: a brotherhood. I laid low as a “probie,” but by the time my secret other life came out (I’d taken acting classes and dabbled in stand-up), I understood that busting balls is how firefighters express affection. When, after four years on the job, it became impossible to juggle my shifts with both a movie and a play, I took a leave of absence, figuring I’d be back.
Seventeen years later, I was. One of the strongest sensations that flooded over me on Sept. 11, 2001, was that feeling of connection.