I know I’ve written about this many times here but I wrote this comment in reply to the question, “Where were you on 9/11?” here. I thought that it had some details that I had never shared with you before so here goes:
My husband and I had moved out of Brooklyn on September 10, 2001 and September 11th was my first day commuting into my Wall St area job from the Hudson Valley. We took the train to Hoboken and I transferred to the path train and got off at the World Trade Center. I was looking for a specific magazine and stopped at a newsstand before I walked out of the building. I had crossed Church Street and was looking in the windows at Century21 thinking how much I was going to enjoy my new commuting route. Then I heard the loudest plane I had ever heard. It was so loud I had to put my fingers in my ears. Then moments later I heard and felt the impact of what I now know was the first plane hitting the building. I thought it was a bomb and remember thinking, “this is where I die” as I ran down the street and across Broadway. The ground undulated underfoot and I remember cabbies standing next to their stopped cars pointing upwards. The plane hit on the opposite side from where I was so when I looked up I couldn’t see it. I thought that some kind of media stunt had gone horribly wrong since there were papers flying everywhere. I know realize that they were papers from people’s desks and filing cabinets up in the tower. I rushed towards my office which was across town from the WTC. I was very upset and crying and trying to reach my husband on my cell phone. I stranger saw me and told me not to worry that everything was going to be alright. He hugged me and when we said goodbye he was walking towards the towers. When I got to my office everyone was freaking out. There was a window in the corner of our floor where you could see the towers and everyone was crowded around it and looking when the 2nd plane hit. I had NPR on the radio and when I heard that there was an unaccounted for plane and that the pentagon had been hit I knew that I needed to get out of there. My husband and I planned on me getting up to times square where he was working and then we’d figure out our escape plan from there. The only way to get there was to walk so I started out trying to stay as far west as possible. I had just started and was right by the South Street Seaport when the first building came down. I remember people screaming and running in all directions. I could see the top of the tower collapsing out of view. I decided after that to not look back anymore. When the 2nd tower fell and I was already on Broadway in the Soho area, I didn’t even turn around. People all around me were pointing and staring openmouthed downtown but I kept walking up. I stopped briefly at my friend’s apartment on 19th street for a little moral support. I wasn’t able to reach my husband on my phone anymore – we didn’t have texting then – so I just sent him mental messages and counted the blocks as I walked and walked and walked. All around me New York was being New York, amazing and beautiful and so sad and broken. We didn’t even know how sad yet. The saddest of all were the hundreds of flyers and posters people made looking for their loved ones. I guess it’s when we thought that there’d still be people trapped, there’d be bodies to identify and not just fragments. I finally made it to Times Square. I found my husband waiting outside of his building at One Time Square because there had been a bomb threat or something. I was so happy to see him. We tried to get on a NJ ferry up on the west side but were told that it was closed. The only way out was to go back downtown and catch the ferry there. He and I walked all the way back downtown together. As we got closer we started to see people utterly covered in white ash. I remember we saw a business man carrying his briefcase. He was white from head to toe and looked like the statue of the business man on a park bench somewhere downtown except that he was moving. We finally made it back to South Street Seaport where we’d catch the ferry. The sidewalks were covered in white ash and there were hundreds of scattering footprints. People must have panicked in the dust cloud coming towards them and ran in all directions to try to escape. Our ferry ride was surreal. We rode past the end of Manhattan where there towers had been replaced by towers of black smoke reaching up into the blue sky. It really was the most beautiful day. The ferry let us off in Jersey City (I think) and we had to walk all the way to Hoboken to get a train to come back to our temporary home. It was the longest day of my life. I am so thankful that I am still alive and that I didn’t have to suffer more than I did. I am definitely a different person now and I miss that girl that I used to be sometimes. It makes me very mad when I see people trying to claim ownership of this tragedy for their own needs. People of all religions and races were in those towers that day and they all perished equally. Intolerance and hatred drove the men who planned this and carried it out. We can’t answer this with more intolerance and hatred. I can’t stand it when I hear how everyone is upset that someone wants to build a Muslim Community Center on “hallowed ground”. Hallowed ground, really?? What about the peep show and the strip club that are also in the same radius of the WTC. Aren’t they on hallowed ground as well? Grrrr. Don’t get me started.
Thank you for letting me share. I will never forget.