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.