Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

My sister got me thinking about what today is (along with the flag in our front yard). I don't think I've ever written my experience down so here goes. This is a really rough draft.

Jay and I had gotten up early that day so I could get to school and work on a paper for school. I was attending Baruch College. I was in the building on 2th and Lexington. Jay I think was around 47th Street at his office building.

The computer room was really empty that morning. I over heard someone saying that someone had a bomb but I didn't know where and I didn't know anything. I took the elevator down to the first floor where there was a big projector and TV. On the screen there was some news on it and I saw a lot of darkness (I think it might of been debris) and a lady reporting but I couldn't tell where this was. I was starting to get a little nervous (which is never a good thing in my family, it usually amounts to a lot of bathroom visits). I walked into the lobby and heard a lady talking loudly, our school was a voting place and the city was voting for something that day. Again I was totally confused as to what the heck was happening.

I left the building and walked over to Lexington Ave. I turned my head left and looked down the street (south) and saw a small strip of black smoke floating through the otherwise beautiful sunny day.

Instantly my stomach started to gurgle but I told myself there was no time for bathroom breaks. I needed to figure out what the heck was going on, and I thought to myself scary things don't happen in cities I live in. This can't be happening.

I tried calling Jay on my cell. I couldn't get through to him at all. So I walked over to a drug store and bought a camera and was able to get some quarters to call Jay on the pay phone. I got some quarter and walked back to the school and used the pay phone. Finally I got a hold of Jay and he said, "Ready to go home." I'm pretty sure I choked out a yes, I can't remember. I told him I was walking to his building because I had overheard the subways were not working. At this point the towers had not collapsed but both planes had hit the buildings.

I started walking north to Jay's office and taking pictures randomly. At one point I could see that the Empire State building was blocked off by a police car (this was from my angle - there could of been more cars). I took another street and ended walking through Times Square. I was walking and wasn't stopping for anything. People were crowed on the streets (they were either looking south at the buildings or could see what was unfolding on a TV screen). I heard everyone gasp, but I couldn't bring myself to turn around. I was really too scared to see what was happening.

I finally made it to Jay's building but they wouldn't let me enter. I called him and told him I was there. But I ended up waiting an hour or two before he could get down. There was no cell service at all (the cell phone towers had been on the World Trade Center).

While I was waiting I could hear planes flying overhead. I didn't know if they were going to crash or not. It didn't occur to me at the time that all planes had been grounded and it was American fighter jets that I was hearing. I swear every time I heard a plane flying overhead my heart stopped and I held my breath. I kept thinking they wouldn't want to crash into Jay's building or that they were going to crash in Times Square. All I could think was, am I far enough away from Times Square that if a plane did crash Jay and I would be able to get out ok.

Finally Jay arrived at the doors of his building and was able to let me in. I was relieve to see him and I think I finally cried a little. We went up to his floor, he worked a level below or above some of our friends Eric and Bryce. After I dumped my school bag on the floor Jay took me to the stairwell of the building. Now I don't like stairwells since my Mom and I were locked in one when I was kid (a story for another day).

Jay looked at me and said, "Did you know the towers collapsed?" I looked at him stunned and couldn't figure out an appropriate response. I was shocked. Things like this didn't happen in America.

After a while Jay, myself, Eric, and Bryce decided we needed to head home. I sent an email out telling family we were safe but looking back I'm pretty sure people weren't checking their emails that day. We all stood together before we left and said a prayer.

We then began trekking it home. We walked over the Queens Bridge (or I think it is also called the 59th Street Bridge). We were lucky because we lived in Queens and not Brooklyn. I'm not sure how anyone was able to get past the towers to get home. From the bridge we could see the collapsed buildings and smoke in the air. One of my biggest memories was how the smoke was such a huge contrast to the blue sky.

Once we were on the other side of the bridge we decided to try to catch a train. Luckily they were working and we were home within a half hour.

At some point that day we were able to get a hold of our parents and tell them we were fine (I really don't remember when that happened).

On Thursday school was back in session. At Baruch you were only allowed to miss something like 3 days of class and if you missed more than that they kicked you out of the class. Being a rule follower I never missed class. So on Thursday afternoon I came out of Spanish class. Right across the street from the building is a big armory. The city had decided to use this as the place to report missing people.

I remember seeing the huge mass of people and at the same point the wind changed direction and I could smell the burning buildings. I started to tear up and headed home.

Once home I called my mom and cried on the phone. She said she had been worrying about me but was still unable to get through to me on the telephone. I told her how seeing all those people looking for loved ones brought it all home. I couldn't believe what had happened. For a solid two years after the collapse of the towers I always told Jay I loved him before we parted. I wanted him to always know how I felt about him because I never knew if another desaster would happen and maybe this time I wouldn't see him again (I know over dramatic but that is what I did).

Today I hug my kids and husband and little tighter because I am thankful for all that I have.


Urban Parks said...

I have heard parts of this story before, but I'm glad you wrote it down. I know Mom and I were worried about both of you. Someday remind me and I will tell you of the day President Kennedy died. I was a senior in High School.

Lonita said...

I found out when I went to a client to pick something up and a receptionist said, "Did you hear that a plane flew into the World Trade Center?" I didn't really grasp the significance until I was back at the office and we all gathered around a TV that only got reception when one of us held the antenna. We watched stunned as the towers fell. I remember Tim calling as we wondered and worried about you and Jay. When we came out to visit you a few days later, I remember the towers were still smoking and there were missing person flyers everywhere. And when we tried to go to the Intrepid and you pulled out your map, a security person yelled at you, "No pictures!"

Donna said...

I remember being at home and becoming still as death when the towers came down. All I knew was you were in school and Jay was at the Rockefeller Ctr. Ryan called right away and asked where you guys were and made me feel better when he said the Rockefeller Ctr was a ways away. Of course I had no idea you were so close and if I had I would have been more worried. I was glad when we got your email and better when Mom or Dad called and said you guys were ok. It was a stressful day.

denverallens said...

I'm so glad you wrote it down. I don't think I've ever heard your story. I think it's one of those days nobody will ever forget. I remember when the space shuttle exploded, another day I'll never forget. Thanks for sharing!

mommybake said...

I had never heard your story before either. I couldn't grasp what had happened or was happening, but when Jay's mom called to tell me that you guys were okay, I couldn't stop crying! I was so happy that you were both okay!!!

I read on facebook today from someone that I went to school with and she said that she was so tired of hearing about 9/11 and wish people would forget about it! How dumb can she be? I am not saying to live in that daze all the time, but you shouldn't ever forget it! I just couldn't believe how stupid she sounded!

I am so thankful for my family too! I always tell them that I love them too! You just never know when they will be taken from you too soon!!!!

quilts and quirks said...

I was eating breakfast, I think when Jennifer, our daughter, called to say "turn on theTV." I did that and was so shocked. We were both crying. All we could think was "How could this have happened???" Then we thought about Sally and Jay, who lived in New York City. I couldn't reach them on their cell phones, because the cell towers were destroyed. I was a basket case all day. Plus many days after that. We heard from Sally and things seemed much better for us. But, I felt such a lost for the families that lost family members and friends that day. It certainly made us love and appreciate each family member more. It is a day we will never forget.

Krissie said...

Thanks for sharing. I had never heard your story. Last year, someone at work said that 9/11 didn't matter to her because it didn't affect her. Another girl totally went off on her (I was thinking another McLean personality in the office) saying how insensitive she was as we had people in the office who's families were affected and that we had other families in the office whose spouses or parents were in the military fighting so she could say something idiotic like that.

Burns Family said...

Every year Eric and I think back on that day. How grateful I am that we all had each other. It was comforting to know you were all coming home together. Remember you all came to our apartment and we just sat there and stared at the tv for a long time. Thanks for sharing your memories. It was a life-changing experience.

Krissie said...

This is David.

I remember where I was. It was my third day in the Fleet Marine Corps. I had only been there a few days I was pretty new to everything. I came to work at 0630 and started the normal work day. We had a duty hut (place where armored guards are posted) inside the building in this room was a television. I really didn't know what was going on, I received a phone call from my Mother and she was extremely worried. The Commanding General made a statement and explained the situation and told everyone to pray and be prepared for anything. I can remember going back to the barracks we had a few Marines that I work with who's parents and family members were in the World Trade Center. This was an extremely hard time because airlines would not let them fly anywhere even if they wanted to and were allowed, some of them had not heard from their family members. Some of them lost loved ones.
The moment that I knew that this was really happening was the next day. Our senior enlisted walked down to where all of the Marines were working, gathered everyone together. He asked who would be willing to volunteer to go into harms way to protect our wonderful country and not one persons hand was down. It was an awesome sight. Not all of us deployed but, that moment we were a team.
I have been in the Marine Corps for almost 9 years and that was the only day that we shut down. It truly was "The day the earth stood still".

Aim said...

That is a day that should never be forgot. I blogged about it too. You and Jay were the first people we thought of when we heard about it. We were worried for you. Helen commented that last year on 9/11, her teacher cried when he told them about it. This year her teacher didn't say anything about it. I think we owe it to those 3000+ people that died, we need to remember it.