The day the planes hit the towers was a day I will never forget.
I was in a BNI meeting in the Grand Central area, when one of the members came into the meeting laughing and saying that the World Trade Center has been hit by a plane. Now, I did not think that was funny even if it had been his idea of a sick joke. As I looked at him in disgust and horror I said “That’s not fucking funny”. Cut my eye (dirty look) and continued in the meeting. I had no idea whether a plane had hit the WTC was true or not until I went outside and saw a television in I think a bank and there it was as plain as the nose on my face the tower on fire. A plane crashing into the World Trade Center. My thought instantly was about my friends who worked at the Landmark Center in the World Trade Center. Were they ok? OMG, I was supposed to be there at 10:00am for my Introduction Leaders Assisting Agreement. Surely, this was not real, I thought to myself. It couldn’t be. My mind was in a tizzy trying to connect the dots and have this all make sense.
My first thought was there was no way I was going to go back down town. Let alone go across any bridge. I saw people on various televisions that I passed walking across the bridge covered in dust and papers and ashes strewn in the air. I was not going to walk across that bridge. My thought was God only knows what could be waiting on the bridge and then the next thing was all the ash, God only knows what’s in it. I really don’t need that on my body. I decided to go as far uptown as possible. Whatever they were bombing, I doubted they would go uptown. That was my thought. I started walking, I had a plan that morning. I would go to my Bloomingdales to return a suit that I had bought because I had gotten the same suit at Century for 50% off the original cost. So I decided then even if it was the end of NY, I would return the suit as it gave me something to do, until I tried to work out what to do. So I walked to Bloomingdales. Please don’t ask me how I got there. All I know is I did, I got there in a daze. I could not stop crying. While in Bloomingdales, I got into squabbles with foreigners who were talking smack about America. I was upset as this was not the time for squabbling. I walked around Bloomingdales like a zombie. Crying and sitting and crying some more. It was time to get out of Bloomingdales and make another plan.
My cellphone was not working. I could not reach anyone and no one could reach me. Thank God for payphones, what few there were and every now and then I would get a signal. I met a women who was hysterical crying in the Chicken shop. “You still have to eat in a crisis.” She was crying because she said she looked Arab and was afraid that she would be attacked. I hugged her and told her she would be fine. She was actually West Indian, Trinidadian she was fine. We ate chicken and cried a little because that was all I could do as I had no idea what to do.
As I was sitting in the Chicken place eating my chicken and crying. I had a thought. Where the hell was Will Smith? How come he did not swoop in and save the day? My brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I did not have a real past experience of what was happening. My brain needed to make meaning out of this situation. Will Smith was my reality. Independence Day was what was happening in NY and Will would save me and save us all. Not like a leading lady or any of that stuff, just he would make it better. Make this planes, fire and the bombs go away by killing whatever Alien has done this. That was my reality or the unreality of this.
Finally, I was able to reach my ILP coach Laurie who suggested we should all meet at Tim’s house on Park Avenue. Ok, I walked to Tim’s house his beautiful large studio that was immaculate with his huge bed. I was emotionally spent that day. I walked into Tim’s house and plopped on his bed and went to sleep. I wake up to them saying lets go to church. I got myself together and we went to a Catholic church. On the way out of the church walking near Bryant Park. It was late into the night now and I really wanted to go home. I happened to meet some people who I recognized from my neighborhood. It amazing that a crisis brings us close together were we are no longer strangers. I called to them. They recognized me just as much as I did them. However, this was different kind of day. Today, we just didn’t nod and go on we connected, were interested in each other’s welfare. I then said goodbye to my people my coach and Tim, they checked if I would be okay with these people. I got on the C train or one of those trains and rode home. The funny thing though, I felt like an alien on the train. I sat next to a women who I started talking to, she looked me dead in the face and did not respond. I swear, I felt as though I had died and gone to zombie land because everyone on the train was disconnected. My train took me home fast and without issue. I came home where I connected with my neighbors. Only to discover that a few neighbors worked in the center or close by. One was late for work that day so the fire turned around and went home, another was at work in a building close by and had witness people jumping to their deaths and bodies exploding on the sidewalk. She was devastated. For her, I left my door open and my apartment became a respite for her to express and talk so she could be supported or just to cry and lastly, neighbor upstairs was killed when the building fell down. It was said, hearsay that she was in the basement when the towers came down trying to get people out. That was the kind of person she was, providing support the best way she could from me with my bike to people in a bombed building.
I try not to think about 9/11 as a terrible day as I know it was. I think of the upside if I can call it that. I think of a city of people who banded together. To hug, give hope, and continue to make our city great. I Love New York. For the people that perished in the World Trade Center. You are gone and you will never be forgotten.