Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept 11 - A Personal Story

I had to share this story from one of my Facebook friends. Lisa and I went to the same high school (Lisa graduated the year after I did). She shared her memories of September 11th, 2001. Her story is especially moving as she was there, in NYC, on that day. As I read her story I got goosebumps and felt my eyes fill with tears. This date in history changed our country forever.....and, no, we will never forget! Below is Lisa's story:

I was living with Scott (boyfriend at the time, husband now) at 57 West 58th Street, located at the corner of 58th Street and 6th avenue. I was a family law attorney for a union, District Council 37 (DC 37), in lower Manhattan. I had worked at DC37 since February 2001.

On Sept 11, Scott was home from work that day, but I had to go into the office first. I had a hearing scheduled in the Bronx. Scott and I had just gotten back from a trip to Florida and I was really tired that morning. I remember what I had on: a black suit and sneakers. Yes, I was one of those people who wore sneakers with a suit. Everybody remembers this: the day was perfect. Maybe 72 degrees and blue skies.

My office building was located on Barclay Street, directly across from WTC. Most days, I took the subway to work, getting off at the WTC subway stop, located underneath the WTC towers. There was a smoothie/ice cream kiosk I used to get fruit smoothies at sometimes, located in the WTC promenade. I was planning on stopping by there on my way into work.

I was on the "N" subway train (i think) when it stopped at the Chinatown stop, about a mile from WTC. The conductor announced that there was an emergency at WTC and that the trains were no longer running. I exited the subway to a mass of people and both the North and South Towers already on fire. Oddly enough, looking back in time, things were somewhat calm. There were tons of people everywhere....walking around, looking up at the buildings and making pay phone calls. No panic, no craziness, nothing. Just people looking up at the skies. Black smoke and blue sky.

I remember immediately thinking of three things:
1) Why are people on pay phones? People are standing in lines to use pay phones, so weird.
2) How awful that the towers are on is the fire dept going to put this out? How many people are in those buildings?
3) I got to get to work and get my files for court, just keep on walking.

And so I did, I kept on walking, looking up at the blazing towers the whole time and having no clue what was going on. I tried calling Scott at work, he was bound to see this on tv right? But my cell phone wasnt connecting. "Oh, " I thought "maybe the cell lines are down, no wonder people are on pay phones." And I kept on walking.

And then, I heard my cell phone ring. It was Scott and he sounded panicked. He said something about an attack and that I needed to get out of the area. Nothing he said made sense. I told him that the WTC towers were on fire, it looked awful. He told me he knew. I told him that I had to go to court. He assured me that there would be no court today. He told me to just walk away from the towers. Just walk north. I asked him what way north was because now I was starting to panic, only because he was really upset and sounded so scared. Why did he sound so upset? Why was he so scared? What was happening? I remember him almost yelling and telling me to just get on the subway and leave the area.

My mom had called him that morning because she had seen the tv reports and didnt know if I had left for work yet. I had already left. He had run down 6th avenue looking for me. I was long gone.

So I got back on the subway, at the Prince Street Station, I think. I only remember two things about that ride:

1) Two people were crying, hysterically. What in the hell was going on, I thought? Attack? Who attacked us?
2) If this was an attack, I had better get off the subway. Times Square stop was coming up and if something big was happening, I shouldnt be on the subway in Times Square.

I exited the subway at Times Square (42nd street) and figured that I could walk home now. It was only 16 blocks away and thankfully, I had my sneakers on. Oddly enough, within seconds, I saw an empty cab and hailed it. It had been at least 45 minutes-hour (i think?) since I had talked with Scott and my cell phone wasnt connecting again, so I figured he was worried. The sooner I got home, the better.

I got in that cab and asked the driver who was visibly upset (and crying?) what in the hell was happening? And he told me that the Pentagon had been hit by a plane. The pentagon? In DC? What plane? Why? Who was doing this? The driver had the radio on really loud and we listened to news reports for the next 15 blocks.

Next thing I remember, we were at 57th street and 6th avenue and I got out of the cab, and there was Scott, just standing there. It was really odd, he had been waiting for me to come home and I guess he had started walking up 6th avenue again, hoping to run into me? I dont remember if the towers had fallen yet. Actually I dont remember anything after that, except walking into my apartment and turning the tv on. The magnitude of what was happening was finally making sense to me. I tried to go into the bathroom and throw up. I had no idea if anybody I worked with was down there and were people ok? I soon found out that everybody i knew was ok. I was so lucky.

I threw out that black suit I was wearing a few days later. I didnt put it in the Goodwill, I just tossed it. I think I associated it with being down there and maybe picking up dust? Death?

I dedicate this memory to all of those people who simply went to work in lower manhattan on Sept 11, just like I did. To all of those people who got on the subway and headed down to WTC, but never headed home. To all of those people who walked through the WTC promenade and maybe got a smoothie too. To all of those people sitting at their desks at 8:45 am. I didnt know you, but I will never forget you.

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