I was on my way to work, about a block away from my office, a mile away from the Towers, and I noticed a crowd on the sidewalk. People were standing six deep going down 6th Avenue as far as I could see. People were spilling off the sidewalk into the street. They were looking up. I looked up.
“A plane just hit the World Trade Center,” answered someone standing next to me. I could see the dark smoke coming out of an upper floor of one of the towers. Thousands of people were staring up at the sky in disbelief.
“What a terrible accident,” we thought.
Then, while we were all looking at it, we saw another plane hit. The sound from the crowd was like the sound of thousands of people swallowing air all at once. A young woman standing next to me said, “Oh my God, my boyfriend works there.” She dropped to her knees. “Do you think he’s going to be o.k.?”
I have thought about that person every time I think about that day and wondered if her boyfriend survived. I was scared for years afterward.
Even today, if I hear the sound of sirens that seem like more than the usual amount of noise, I wonder if something like is happening again.
Afterwards, the giant city of New York came together. It felt like people were being kinder to each other. It’s amazing how the feeling of being so vulnerable actually softened people.
I thought I was over the experience. Writing this, I realize, I’m not.
What do you remember about then and what has changed for you today?