Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You on Septemeber 11, 2001?


9/11/2001 was nine years ago today, I was living on 29th and 8th in Manhattan. It had always been a dream of mine to live in the city before I turned 30. I was 27 back then.

I remember sitting at my desk in the old 18th Street & 6th Avenue offices of America Online. It was before 9am and I received an IM from my buddy Chris who worked for a big financial firm, it may have been Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs, I forget. His message said something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I thought it was so odd, why would the pilot be flying so low? What a horrible accident. I felt bad for everyone involved. At that time, I had no idea the accident was to become one of America's most devastating tragedies.

A few minutes later, he sent another IM saying the other tower was hit. This obviously was not an accident. Everyone in the office began buzzing about it. People were shocked and confused. Within about twenty  minutes, the office became eerily quiet as security descended upon our desks. They escorted us down several flights of stairs. We were not to use the elevator.

We stood outside the AOL building staring up at the smokey sky only a few miles away from where we were. Shock and horror are the only words I can think of to describe our faces. It was sheer chaos. Like a horror movie, only it wasn't a movie, it was real and it was going on around us.

I proceeded to walk home slowly. It was such a beautiful sunny day. Much like it is today. I remember cars pulled over to the side with their car stereos blaring the news. I remember people desperately trying to make calls on their cell phones, me included. I remember lines of people standing near pay phones. I remember mascara running down tearful faces of impeccably dressed girls leaving their offices in confusion.

I remember arriving home to my tiny studio apartment and finding a man tiling the lobby as if it were any other day. I remember my best friend, Scott somehow getting in touch with me. He couldn't get home to Queens, so we met up and went for a burger at a local McDonald's on 8th and 27th.

I remember after a few minutes, the owner of that McDonald's asking everyone to leave. He was closing up for the day even though it was early afternoon. I remember friends who couldn't get home, sitting on my bed-- there wasn't much seating in my 20x20 apartment. We huddled around the TV. They drank Heineken and sucked on Marlboro Lights and talked.

I remember not having to work that week. I remember wanting to get home to my mom's house on Long Island. I remember Penn Station on September 12, filled with armed National Guardsmen. I remember feeling safe upon arriving to my mom's house. I remember watching horrifying news story after news story. I remember hearing about firemen and policemen killed. I remember hearing about Long Islanders who thought they were simply going to work that day never coming home again. I remember the tears and the heartache I felt for everyone who lost someone. I felt guilty to be alive in a strange way.

A part of me died that day and I will never forget.

21 comments:

Jenn said...

Thank you for that post. I remember very clearly where I was and what I was doing...just like it was yesterday. I was getting ready for work and my mom called me and she was crying..rambling about something hitting one of the towers in new york... i turned the tv on, just in time to see the second plane hit. I can't imagine what it was like to actually be so close. I think apart of us all died that day...in an instant, everything changed.

Bossy Betty said...

You were so close. I was far away, and remember seeing it on TV and just thinking it couldn't be real....

Christiejolu said...

Wow girl thanks for sharing this...I was hear in Tucson that day but my heart was in New York that day for sure...

Tom said...

Very nice heartfelt tribute. I was working on that day too, and had just arrived to work when the first plane hit. It was a scary day.

My boss let us all go home early.

Veronica Lee said...

I was at home. I will never forget that tragic day.

Lady Hill said...

I have been struggling with the thought of writing about where I was that day. I was a fish out of water 9 years ago today, a NY girl with NY family in the city, but sitting in the West Virginia Hills. I remember the day in a way that no one else I'm close with does. Everyone was HERE. And I was not. The guilt I feel about not being "home" is so strange and so strong. I mean, why do I feel guilty about being at college?

We too were sitting on beds b/c of lack of seats in the dorm rooms, drinking beer and smoking cigs completely ingoring the smoke free and underage drinking rules of the campus.

I will never forget.

Riot Kitty said...

That's one of those mornings I'll never forget. It was sad enough for me having lived there before - I can't imagine living there at the time it happened. We said exactly the same thing at work in the newsroom - it was like a horror movie, but it really happened.

Sam said...

I don't think any of us will forget that day. But I can't even imagine what it must have been like for you, actually being in New York.

Jeanne C. said...

Forever changed by that day. I was home. I was crying all day... the city is right in my backyard! Now every time I cross the bridge and look at the skyline, it brings me back. It will never be the same.

Babes Mami said...

Great post Ally, I was in french class that day. :[

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I was 12 when this happened. All of my teachers were sobbing and crying and I didn't really understand what was going on. Us kids were just happy we could spend the rest of the day goofing off since all the teachers were huddled in front of the TVs letting us do what we wanted.

Only when I got home did I realize.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Thank you for this powerful post, hon.
I remember waking up to my alarm, here on the W. Coast, set to the news, hearing that a plane crashed into the towers. I arrived at work and was sent home. In the coming days, I realized how atrocious the whole thing was. It's so much easier from afar. My heart goes out to NY and everyone who lost a loved one.
xoRobyn

Mamma has spoken said...

I remember that day well. I was teaching and had to run to the office for a moment. There were several people in the principal's office saying they couldn't believe what was happening. I watched it all on a small tv in her office. I had to get back to my classroom and it was the hardest thing to do: Go back and teach like nothing had happen.

Patty@NYC Girl at Heart said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I know exactly how you felt then and now. I could not agree more with the last sentence.

ezphotoinvitations said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I think everyone in North America remembers where they were when they learned of the attack. I know I do, I had a really hard time writing today's blog post as it brought back all the emotion of that day. I'm not American, but I still remember how horrified, terrified, confused and saddened I was.

Copyboy said...

A crazy day indeed. I can definitely empathize. But so true, my heart goes out to all the families that suffered horrific losses on that day.

Stefanie said...

Thanks for sharing this.
~Stopping by from SITS

Margaret Benbow said...

Yes. That day is imprinted in a special place in our memories. We will never forget.

At that time a beloved relative happened to be in the last days of his life, in a coma. I remember being glad, for the first time, that he was in this condition; that this kind, kind person would never have to know about a terrible act of violence that would have broken his heart.

MiMi said...

It's amazing that you were there...I can not imagine being there. I remember how awful it was and I was all the way across the country!
I think a part of all of us died that day. :(

Pat Tillett said...

Great post! It must have been very scary being so close. I was scared and I was on the west coast. I'm still scared. Just as much by what's going on here now, as I am of what happened on that day.

b-chica said...

I was on a plane when it happened. My mother and I were flying from CT to Tampa FL to visit my grandmother; when the ordered all planes down, we landed in Charlotte, NC.

My mother was on crutches so I had to handle both of our carry-ons and suitcases so we just stayed in the terminal/baggage claim areas while we were trying to figure out how we were going to get to FL and then when my uncle who had just moved to NC the week before could come get us. There were no TVs in that area, and I was getting my information by trying to see the monitor of the news crew outside the airport; so it didn't really hit me how bad it was until we got to a hotel (my uncle had not arrived and we had a choice of taking the last shuttle to the hotel or staying on Red Cross cots in the airport if he didn't show, so we went to the hotel). We ordered room service and sat there watching news coverage until we couldn't take in anymore, then we went to the hot tub just to be away from the TV.

The next day my uncle drove us the rest of the way to my grandmother's place. We spent our "vacation" watching news and doing jigsaw puzzles because there was a tropical storm so we couldn't really do anything.

The flight home was surreal. I haven't flown since and don't know if I will be able to handle it now.

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