Written 2 years ago, this was originally posted on an older blog and my Myspace blog.  Even 7 years after 9/11/01, my sentiments remain the same.

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I continue to walk in stride, sometimes stumbling to keep up with the Rat Race. All of us in the Race continue to look straight ahead, dodging all eye contact and rarely, if ever, looking up at the buildings above us.

Five Seven years later, and it’s apparent things are strikingly different.  Though things change and lives are forever affected, it’s still apparent that many things will stay the same.

Despite the sadness and ongoing apprehension that is imminent, it’s often the mundane aspects of the City that bring comfort, and even a sense of relief.

Since 9/11/01, I am reminded by how much life has really changed.  Every now and then, when going to or coming from work, the hum from a helicopter from above is louder and more prominent.  The sirens from firetrucks and emergency vehicles garner a look out the window or turn of the head– just in case.
Unlike before, my work calls for more coverage on security issues.  Our safety in all respects is something that we, as sometimes complacent citizens, now find a necessity and crucial terms.  When loved ones call from home, their voices still reverberate a sense of uneasiness, especially when NYC issues arise in the news.  But above all of the mundane routines, a train ride into the WTC is now chilling, a walk around the WTC site is thought-provoking and a brief pause in front of St. Paul’s Chapel, scurrying to the 4/5 train, speaks volumes, regardless of how many years have passed.

I was just a clueless Va. transplant five seven years ago.  Living in Jersey City, in an illegal apartment no less, I was about a mile away from the WTC site.  I had new roommates (from Va.) at the time.  When the first plane hit, I got a knock on the door while I was in the shower.  My roommate, I thought, was being annoying and impatient.  When I got out of the shower, a few minutes before 9am, mom called me.  She seemed anxious and worried and told me to turn my tv on.  Since I was a penniless intern back then, I didn’t have cable.  Since the local channels’ towers were broadcast from the WTC, I had no reception on my local channels, either.  I immediately turned on the radio and heard Guiliani say, “if you don’t need to be in NYC today, please stay home.”  It was then, when I heard that a 2nd plane had hit the other tower.  Speaking to mom, the ever-optimist, I was convinced that these planes had to be a freak accident.
After several minutes of listening to the radio and to mom’s voice, I knew that not only was this a major catastrophe, I was also 350 miles away from my comfort zone.  My cell phone had no service, my landline rarely connected, my dialup internet barely got online, and so, my family and friends, all of whom were in Va., were frantically trying to reach me.  My roommates at the time, had only been in NJ/NY for a week.  Because they were newer than me, they weren’t used to the separation and detachment that went along with being a transport.  They immediately wanted to leave town.  I was the only one with a car.

Because we had no idea what was going on, with limited phone service, no tv and intermittent radio connection, crisis mode was in full effect.  I was terrified of the unknown, but for once, I wasn’t thinking of myself.  Because we were close enough, we could see the towers fall.  Because we were close enough, we could see the smoke billow from the site.  And because it seemed all too surreal, we had to walk down a few blocks to get a closer look.

Our view from Jersey City, just blocks from where we lived.

We saw for ourselves, the destruction and uncertainty of 9/11.  I was conscious of the fact that the U.S. would “go to war.”  But I was terrified of the fact that there could possibly be another attack. After all, the plane that was diverted and ended up crashing in Pa., left from Newark, just 11 miles from my apartment.
After finally getting in touch with Jeff (who was still living in Va.) and my family, I decided to do what I thought was best during this time of uncertainty.  I had to go home.  If anything was to happen, I wanted to be with my family.  Even though I had roommates that I’d only known for a week, I was really alone up here.

And so, we piled into the Jetta for what was possibly the longest ride to Va.  The roads going south on the Turnpike were the emptiest I’d ever seen.  Yet, the Turnpike going North was packed, but with only Emergency Vehicles.  It was truly surreal and mindnumbing to see this parade of Emergency Vehicles reporting for duty.  It’s a site that I’ll never forget, but one that touched me in many ways.


After the 9/11 attacks, it was apparent that people could come together in crisis.  It was apparent that we are all bound together because of one underlying factor:  our freedom as Americans.

People will always ask, “where were you on 9/11?”  I always say the varied versions of the same thing:  “I was an intern, living right outside of NYC, getting ready for work, when my mom called to let me know the news.  I never made it into the City that day, but I drove 6 hours to go home- just in case.”

I’m well aware that my existence was unsubstantial in comparison to the multitude of heroes that saved others that day.  While I was driving home to seek comfort, there were hundreds of firefighters, police officers, emergency servicemen and women and regular civilians who helped others find comfort in this time of need.  It’s said 20,000 people were saved that day.  And while we should never forget the lives that were lost, we should always remember how many heroes prevailed because of this catastrophe.

After finding the solace that I searched for in Va., the smoke still billowed from Ground Zero a week later.  Nevertheless, I anxiously and adamantly returned to NYC.  Though I made the trip alone, I returned to my new home, and realized that I’d never be alone in this wonderful town ever again.

I took this pic about 2 weeks after the attacks.  The smoke was still billowing.

And my favorite photo of the Tribute in Light Memorial taken on Sept. 9, 2004 by the Coast Guard.

And one of my favorite covers of the Village Voice.

**

I know I’ll never forget.

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