This was question 2 of the meme I just did and it didn’t feel appropriate to have it in there with the other questions like, what’s your favorite candy, etc. I don’t know if it tells you 45 things about me but I do feel like my experiences that day changed me forever and certainly changed our world. I often categorize things as being before September 11 and after. I used to tend to quantify the before things as being better than the after but now since having P – I have an after that trumps all.
2. Where were you when 9/11 happened?
We moved out of Brooklyn to upstate NY on September 10, 2001. September 11th was my first day commuting through the World Trade Center.(I was working at a Global Investment Bank in the Wall Street area. My official title was Senior Business Support Analyst but I was really a glorified secretary. It was a great job but for many reasons – some you are about to read – I couldn’t go back to it after my maternity leave.) I had taken the Path train to the WTC and stopped at a newsstand on my way out of the building to see if they had a magazine that I was looking for. The magazine wasn’t there yet so I continued on my way. I exited the building and crossed Church Street heading East to my office. I remember looking around thinking, this is going to be my new route to and from work. It was a gorgeous day, just the most sparklingly beautiful day. I had just passed Century21 this giant discount department store on the corner when I heard the loudest plane that I had ever heard. I stuck my fingers in my ears. Then I heard a high pitch whine like when a bomb drops. Then the impact – BAM! I took off down the street and ran across Broadway with the ground undulating underneath me. I remember looking at the yellow cabs stopped in traffic and thinking, this is where you die. My back was to the building and I was on the other side from where the plane had gone in. I had no idea what had happened and neither did anyone around me. There was paper fluttering everywhere and I picked one up to see if it was some kind of weird propaganda campaign gone horribly wrong. It was just a paper off of someone’s desk. I was running to my office now, crying and desperately trying to get G on my phone. I couldn’t get through (which would be a running theme for the entire day) and I was freaked out. I passed a man on the street who saw that I was upset. He talked to me and gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be OK. I called my friend who I knew was working from home and she turned her TV on. She told me that the early local news reports were saying that it was some kind of freak accident. I finally got to my office and was able to talk to G. From my desk I could see my co-workers looking out of the window. They were all standing there looking at the buildings when the second plane hit. I guess that some time passed – we were trying to get lines out on the office phones and we were listening to the radio – but looking back it feels like everything happened so fast. I heard on the radio (God Bless you NPR) that the Pentagon had been hit I wanted to find G and get out of there. He was working in Times Square and we decided that I would walk up there, find him and we’d figure out how to get “home” together. (All our stuff was in storage, our pets were at the kennel and we were staying at a bed & breakfast type apartment thing until we finalized where we were going to live.) I left my office by myself and started walking North trying to stay as far East as possible. Just as I was passing South Street Seaport the first building (actually the second building hit) started to come down. I heard the sound and looked up. I could see the top of the building exploding into itself as it started collapsing. People around me started panicking, knocking people over, running and falling down. I just turned around and tried not to look back. By the time we reached the Brooklyn Bridge the ash started to fall on us – like a light snow. Nothing like the total blackout experienced by those closer to the buildings. I met a woman with a cane who was walking home to the Bronx. I couldn’t get G on my phone again. The whole time I spent walking from the bridge to midtown I couldn’t reach him so I sent him mental notes and I counted the blocks. I was on Broadway above Canal St when the second building fell. I heard it and saw people stopping to look at it but I didn’t turn around. I didn’t want to see anymore. I stopped at my friend’s apartment around 14th St for moral support and she invited G and I to come back if we wanted. I set out again and finally got to G. He was standing outside his building. They had made them leave because they were afraid of the building being another target. I was so happy to see him. We found out that we had to head back downtown in order to get a ferry to New Jersey so down we went. We did stop at my friend’s apartment again to get information and she gave me a pair of socks. I was so glad that I had worn my clogs – comfy shoes – that day. There were plenty of women shopping for new shoes that day or walking in their stocking feet. I don’t think I ever wore heels to work again – just in case. It turns out that we had to go all the way back to South Street Seaport to get out. As we were walking down the air got thicker and thicker with dust and we passed one business man heading North – he looked like a ghost. He was white with dust with his suit and his briefcase all completely covered. My friend had given us dish towels to put over our faces. When we finally got to the Seaport we started running towards the water because we didn’t want to miss the boat. The whole place was now completely covered in a layer of chalky white. I remember looking down and seeing frantic footprints on the sidewalk. People must have been running in all directions when the clouds of debris came rolling down the street. When we were on the boat and traveling away from Manhattan I finally turned around and looked. The two towers, or what was left of them, were burning and sending a huge plume of black smoke into the sky above. It really looked like the end of the world.