"Suddenly, right on television, at 9:59am the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. When the cloud of dust settled, the building was gone. It was hard to fathom. We were shaken. It was scary to be on this island, bridges and tunnels shut down. Not knowing what might happen next. At 10:28am the North Tower collapsed. Two skyscrapers. 110 floors each. Gone.
Throughout that day, we hung out at my mom and Steve’s apartment. Dazed. Trying not to let panic set in. We were constantly reminded of the day’s seriousness by F-16 Fighter Jets roaring overhead. We watched comedy. Any funny tv show or film we could find. We even put on my childhood home videos to lighten the mood. The city was covered in a thick cloud of smoke, dust, particles… It was very strange to think that human life was somewhere in those particles.
Finally, by afternoon we realized we hadn’t eaten all day and decided to get some food at the corner diner. Walking outside, we saw the strangest sight. Hoards of people, dressed in office attire, walking north. With all the subways stopped, taxis non-existent, and tunnels and bridges closed to cars – people were walking home to upper Manhattan, New Jersey, the Bronx… Some had briefcases; many were covered in white soot. They all looked tired and dazed. I wish I’d taken a photo but I was still in too much shock to think to do it. When we got in Metro Diner, we were shocked to discover that it was packed. New Yorkers were sharing a meal together, some sitting quietly, some talking about what they saw and how they felt. There was a sense of goodwill among the citizens. We would pull together to get through no matter what.
After that day, the city was still in a tailspin. The air down on 14th Street had a unique smell that I suppose can only come from more than 2,000 people and 2 skyscrapers cremated in the blink of an eye. It was strange to breathe it. Our neighbor let us know that her sister who worked in the South Tower, had been late for work that morning and her life was miraculously spared. She had worked on a team with 30 people and only 3 had survived. She was late for work, one person was at a funeral that morning, and one was home sick. She spent the next month going to funeral after funeral for all her lost friends and the PTSD and guilt she experienced was severe. I wonder if she ever recovered…
The most heartbreaking sights in days that followed Sept. 11th were the flyers. Faces of mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends… All ages and races. MISSING."