Everyone in New York City has a 9-11 story. Mine begins nearly two months before that fateful day. I was in the World Trade Center with my ex-wife, who is originally from Jamaica. (I am a born and bred New Yorker.). After a day of shopping downtown, we found ourselves in the World Trade Center, because I had suggested that we go up on the Observation Deck, something she had never done. We stood on the line and were nearly at the front when my ex said that she was tired and wanted to go home. We left and went home. We could go on the Observation deck another day, she said.
Two months later, the Saturday before 9-11, I was on a boat on the East River. I snapped a picture of the World Trade Center. It is date-stamped 09/08/2001.
On 9-11, at 8:46am, when the North Tower was struck, I was on the #4 train, heading to work. I got off at the Nevins Street station in downtown Brooklyn and immediately got a phone call from my ex. She was talking fast, asking me if I knew what had happened. Of course I didn’t. I was underground when the North Tower was struck.
I walked the block to work. Shortly thereafter, the South Tower was struck. Then, we knew for sure, America was under attack.
From Brooklyn, from Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue, I could see the smoke from Lower Manhattan rising to the heavens. What seems like a very long time ago, what seems like just yesterday, I remember the hordes of people trekking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, covered in ash. It seemed…post-Apocalyptic.
A co-worker, who had been in Lower Manhattan for a court appearance, found her way back to Brooklyn. We had interviewed together and had started the job on the same date nearly a year ago. She didn’t know how she had made it back to Brooklyn. She was obviously shell shocked, and we ended up sending her to the hospital.
Days later I thought and told my ex that now she could never go out on the Observation deck.
Today, I went to Church. It seemed like the right place to be. A number of firemen were present. Fitting for this 10 Anniversary. We all clapped for them, thanking them in this small way for a job that takes extraordinary courage.
It seems like only yesterday, but it’s been ten years, this 10th Anniversary, a day that changed everyone’s life in America, not just in New York City.