September 11th

I was living in New York on September 11, 2001.

Thirteen years later I can still go back to exactly how I felt that day and the weeks following it. I had just moved to NY 3 months prior after graduating from college. I was adjusting to post-college life and trying to find what that first job would be. That morning I was actually sleeping when it happened. My mother called me and told me to turn on the news. At that point everyone still thought that a small plane had accidentally flown into one of the towers. But then I watched as something else hit the second tower. I froze in horror trying to grasp what was happening. Like everyone else, including the news reporters, we were just trying to piece together what this all meant.

I lived in the West Village just a block north of Soho. My roommate had headed for her 2nd day of work in one of the buildings right next to the World Trade Center. I had no idea what time she had left or where she could be.

Out of my balcony which faced north, I could see people standing on the corner facing South looking at the towers. Part of me wanted to go down and join them, but I was terrified. As I watched the 1st tower fall on TV, I simultaneously heard those people gasping as they saw it directly. Even if they never showed the footage on TV or online again, I could still close my eyes and see the building engulfed in a cloud of dust and then disappear.

A little while later the 2nd tower fell. I paced in my apartment, not really knowing what else was to come. About fifteen minutes later my roommate walked through the door. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see anyone. She was in an adjacent building when they decided to evacuate and her and a group of friends just started walking uptown. She didn’t even know that the towers had fallen because she hadn’t looked back. She does have a scar on her leg where some debris fell as she walked to work when the first tower was hit.

All traffic below 14th street was shut down. That night a friend and I went to the corner grocery store and there was complete silence as people walked down the aisles with the same bewildered look. The next morning we went to Brooklyn to my friend’s apartment. The streets were eerily empty as we made our way to the subway. Our typical subway route took us through the WTC, so we had to take the detour and ended up on an outdoor platform switching trains. I remember seeing papers everywhere along the tracks, which I can only assume flew out of the buildings.

I spent the next several days in Brooklyn with a direct few of the smoke still billowing from lower Manhattan. There was just deep sadness and fear of what would come next. Other attacks? War? War on US soil?

The city smelled for months. It’s really an indescribable smell. The best I can do is say that it was a mixture of death and steel. Every time a police or fire truck siren sounded you could feel everyone around you tense up and pause. Something that was a normal background sound of the city, now created a sense of panic.

Every year on September 11th, I remember the dread as I waited for my roommate to come. I recall the eeriness of that night and the next morning in an empty city. I breathe a little heavier.

Even though I only lived in New York for that one year, having been there at that time has cemented an even stronger connection for me with that city.

It’s impossible for me to ever forget.

One thought on “September 11th”

  1. I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit. When I was actually able to grasp what was happening I called YOU but couldn’t get through. I began to slightly panic and then thought everyone is calling loved ones in ny, I’ll try a bit later. So I drove to school and couldn’t believe the sheer silence and somber on campus. All You heard was the news from ny that every tv was broadcasting. Eventhough I wasn’t in ny I too have this connection every 9-11.

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