*** This post was originally published in 2015
September 11th 2001 is a day that always leaves us all heavy hearted, remembering the tragic events that seem to be branded in our souls. I don’t think I really ever told my story here, or spoke about the impact it will forever have on me, but today 14 years removed, I am ready to share.
It started as a beautiful sunny day, and it was my second day working in Times Square, in the showroom for Laundry by Shelli Segal. On the bus that morning, I was rushing to work when I heard the screeching noise and sirens, but I didn’t really think much about, as New Yorkers we are no strangers to sirens and the loud city. In my position as front desk manager, I was required to forward calls to different employees around the office. I remember all the lights on the phone, with calls from friends and family members ringing off the hook, asking to speak to their loved ones who worked in the office. I kept quickly forwarded the calls, not anything out of the ordinary, until my mother called to make sure I was safe at work. I didn’t understand why she was calling, but she mentioned that a plane had struck the Twin Towers, which I passed every morning on the bus. We hung up, and then, just after 9am, the phones activity intensified again with more frantic callers, indicating that it wasn’t an accident, and a second plane just crashed into the South Tower. From Midtown, I couldn’t see the events unfold, and there were no TV’s in my area, so it was hard to image what exactly was happening just downtown. I immediately called my our store in Soho to check on my colleagues, and my good friend Julie, who lived just down the street from the World Trade Center. All I could remember was lots of screaming, and her saying they were ok.
Even at that point, I don’t think I comprehended the severity of the situation, until our CEO made his rounds to each floor, offering employees the option to leave, because we were so close to Times Square, and there was speculation that epicenter could be the next target. With that, the office cleared. Now that I was outside, the feeling of fear and uncertainty with everyone on the streets was extremely apparent. People on frantic cell phone calls, sitting on curbs with heads in hands, strangers embracing and sobbing one another. Not knowing what to do next, I started walking to the bus, but I realized that the tunnels and bridges were soon to be closed, and the ferries were suspended, so my route back to Staten Island was blocked. I tried to find another way back home, but my mother urged me not to try to get out of the city, since we didn’t know if the bridges would be threatened. At the time, my mom worked at a hotel uptown, so she booked me a room, and I planned to spend the night there. A childhood friend, at our college FIT, happened to call, so we decided to meet up and figure out what to do. I remember walking through a silent Times Square, which was eerily quiet. The news tickers were running with information about the attacks, and it was on the big screens that I saw for the first time, the planes hitting the Towers. Everyone stood in silence, in shock and in fear. Not wanting to spend the night alone in a hotel, my friend and I went to another friend’s aunt’s house. When we arrived at her apartment, we continued to watch the same footage that we all remember over and over again, horrified that something like this could be happening in the same city I was in, only a few blocks away. I was officially in a state of shock, and I wanted nothing more than to be home with my family. I don’t know what else happened that night, but I do know that what happened at 8:46am that day changed all of us and the world, forever.
The next morning, my friend Taylor and I tried to make our way back home. If I can recall, we took a train somewhere, hopped a taxi, and then hitched a ride in a police car to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. As we approached the walkway of the bridge, we noticed the debris and blanket of grey dust that covered everything in the area. That sight kept us silent as we crossed the bridge on foot, broken only by the sight of my mother and her mother, standing on the other end of the bridge. I remember the look of fear on my mother’s face, and the relief when she hugged me. We all sat in silence the entire way home.
The days to follow were tough. Reports of friends and loved ones effected and killed in the attacks started to pour in. The city was on lock down, and everyone stayed home, glued to the TV, watching news reports for hours, even days. The following week, I returned to work and school. Detours in downtown took us around the horiffic scene which was difficult to see. I don’t remember how long it took to overcome the grief and mourning, and in fact, I don’t think I ever overcame it. The sounds of constant sirens will forever be instilled in my brain, and even today when I hear sirens, I often think about that day. Low flying planes always make me wonder, and the fear that something similar could happen again, shakes me to my core.
Today, I woke up with a lump in my throat, like I have for every September 11th since, and for all to come. The angst starts in the days preceding, as I stare at the memorial lights that commemorate the Twin Towers, shining right outside my windows. Never did I ever think I would be living across the street from the World Trade Center, or walking by the Memorial on a daily basis. I cry to myself, as I’ve been doing so for the last 14 years, with all the emotions rushing back through my head. I’ve always taken the morning off to watch the names of everyone we lost that day, remembering them, and thinking of their families. Walking around our neighborhood, with police cars in formation, bag pipes blaring, barricades containing us, and passerby’s eyes of grief, my children obviously sense something is going on. I try to discuss it with the kids, especially with Ryder, since he learned about the history behind September 11th in school. I try not to let my emotions affect the kids, as one day Jason and I will sit them down, and share our stories and memories of that day. We both knew heroes lost that day. And today, we remember them and will never forget.