Thursday, September 10, 2009

9/11: My Beloved City & The People Lost

Where was I on 9/11? Within walking distance of the World Trade Center, visiting friends and family 9 months after leaving NYC.

My best friend was getting married that weekend. My uncle celebrated his birthday the night before. A friend from Charleston was visiting. My friend Michelle's leukemia had been labeled critical.

September 10, 2001 at 10PM. Our friend from Charleston wanted to go out for drinks downtown. Let's go to Windows on the World. We roamed over to the Towers joyously eager to sit down at a renowned restaurant overlooking the city from the 106Th Floor. We tried pushing through the rotating doors, but the Towers were closed. Oh well, maybe tomorrow night.

September 11, 2001 at 8AM. Husband jumped in the shower. He needed to run to his old salon and cut hair for clients that were missing him since we moved in December of 2000. I got on the phone to speak with Make A Wish Foundation who wanted to donate a Laptop to my friend Michelle. The conversation was somber which made me oblivious to my surroundings.

8:45 AM. Husband came running out of the shower while I was on the phone. "Did you hear that? It sounded like a plane just flew over your dad's building and crashed." I thought he was out of his mind. What were the odds of that happening? I chuckled at him and told him to get dressed and head to work.

8:50AM. Ended my phone conversation and turned on NBC's The Today Show. The only image on the screen was a huge gaping black hole in the North Tower. What? How? What was going on? "Kurt, Kurt, come out. You were right." We both watched the TV report not knowing what to make of it. Ran out in the middle of 6Th Avenue and Bleecker Street and felt as though we could reach out to where this horrific event took place. The NY streets were slowing down, as passer bys were looking behind them but still walking towards their intended destination. The subway, work, coffeehouses.......We did not realize it, but we had run out in our jammies and my husband in his boxer shorts. Ran back into my father's building to put on some clothes and grab the camera.

9:00 AM. Snapping away photographs and drawing our own conclusions with the New Yorkers around us. "What a shame. Looks like it was a helicopter. Didn't this happen in NY before to the Empire State Building?"

9:03 AM. As we are frantically clicking away with our camera, we see a second plane heading straight for the South Tower and a GIGANTIC but SILENT ball of fire came shooting out of it. A sudden GASP was heard from hundreds of people that were helplessly watching the events unfold with us. In a matter of seconds, we all were stricken with fear and tears. THIS was NO ACCIDENT!

9:05 AM. Ran back into my father's apartment to watch the news and find out the horrific reality of this warm, clear and sunny sky day, now filled with billowing smoke, and the noise of Jets and Sirens.

9:30 AM. Watched our President, George Bush, in terror, address the nation that we had been "Attacked". A Nation at War. Someone had done this to us intentionally? Was this real? Was I truly alive to witness this?

9:35 AM. I urged my husband to not go anywhere. Tenants from my father's building were running in trying to get a glimpse of the news on our screen and asking what floors were hit. "My friend worked on the 96Th Floor", I heard as my heart sunk knowing that there was no way she survived.

9:43 AM. Pentagon gets hit. More dread and terror filled my limbs. I did not feel safe. I was awaiting for a plane to crash on top of us too, but where else could we go?

9:55 AM. Ran to the roof of the building attempting to get a better view of the Towers from above. I had just purchased my camera, and it had a Zoom that could capture images up close from miles away. Again I snapped away and away documenting this moment. I zoomed closer and closer and my precious, expensive camera dropped out of my hands crashing onto the concrete. "What's wrong?", my husband inquired. "Korn, I just saw a group of four people holding hands and jumping out of the building, " I wailed uncontrollably. That moment I will never erase out of my memory, because at THAT MOMENT this tragedy became very tangible.

10:05 AM. I watched the South Tower turn into dust before my eyes. The soot reached all the way to our street. I cried and cried. How could something so mighty and so representative of our city just give way like that?

10:10 AM. Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania. How much can one nation take? How could we ever possibly digest all of this? How could our brains wrap around that our sense of security was diminished forever?

Received a call from my aunt residing on Nassau Street letting us know that she was OK, but that there were people from the Towers running inside her apartment for refuge and asking for water. The dust seeped through all the closed windows.

10:28 AM. The North Tower comes tumbling along. Up until that point we prayed and prayed that at least ONE would be left standing as a sign that somehow we did not completely lose this battle, but that was not meant to be. Kurt and I were in a trance. Could not speak, all we could do was walk the street like zombies with heavy hearts.

The seconds and minutes and hours and days to follow were draining. We treaded the streets lightly with masks on our mouths, delivering canned goods to volunteer stations, looking through posted photographs on fences and walls and parks for a familiar face, listening to Fire Engines and Helicopters and Jets all day long, and not peeling our eyes off the News stations for new developments. This went on for 7 days. We could not return to Salt Lake, and the honest truth was, that an airplane was the LAST thing I wanted to be on anyway.

Our families and co-workers called over and over again until they got through the busy signal to find out that we were all right.

The wedding was cancelled until further notice.

My friend Michelle dying from leukemia, was searching for answers in her hospital bed.

Our friend Sean from Charleston, hugged us tight out of sheer love and comfort that we were together.

When the day came to leave, a deep sense of GUILT filled me. How could I leave my family behind in a time like this? I would go back to Salt Lake City, and they were stuck in this WAR Zone. How could I leave my Beloved City behind? I grew up here. I should stay and volunteer and and cry alongside all the victims.

I boarded a packed plane suspicious of every passenger. "Did they spend too much time in the bathroom? What were they talking about on their cellphone or typing on their computer? Was the passenger on the plane with 5 other suspects?" The list goes on and on. But we landed.

9/11 proved to me that a lovely day could turn into a nightmare in a matter of seconds.

9/11 proved to me that we are not strangers, even in one of the world's most populated cities, we are all connected.

9/11 proved to me that we need to appreciate life and live it to the fullest.

9/11 proved to me that a Fireman's Oath is about protecting others FIRST. While everyone ran out, they ran in.

9/11 proved to me that money means nothing. That day rich people died along with the poor.

9/11 proved to me that we should not take for granted our families before we leave the house, because it might be our last.

9/11 proved to me that All Nations stand against evil as ONE!

9/11 proved to me that the victims on Flight 93 proved what "selfless" truly means and saved other lives in the process.

9/11 proved to me that we Still Live In The Greatest Country in The World where our Freedom of Religion & Beliefs is honored. These terrorists were trying to break that but LOST!!! There is no GOD, I don't care of what Faith you are, that promotes DEATH!

I love this country, I love NYC, I love our everyday heroes (policemen, firemen, doctors, the military), I love our diversity, I love mankind, and most of all I send MY LOVE to the families of ALL the victims that day. Thanks for your strength and dignity.

1 comment:

cory williamson said...

that's a good story, thanks for sharing it.

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