10 Years Later Remembering September 11

The roar of an airplane still takes me back with a shudder.

I was walking through Bryant Park in Manhattan on my way to work when the sound of a passenger jet interrupted my thoughts. I looked up to see the white underbelly of a plane flying dangerously low. While the plane didn’t seem in distress, I thought it might crash in the Hudson. But once it was out of sight, it was out of mind so I continued on my way.

It was 8:45 a.m.

Fifteen minutes later, I was standing on the corner of Second Avenue and 41st Street, waiting to cross. An ambulance sped by me with a news van inches from its bumper. The man next to me said, “Did you hear? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”

And I knew. It had been that plane. I looked up and saw the black plume of smoke reaching across from lower Manhattan against the bright blue sky.

By the time I reached my office, the second plane had hit the second tower. I couldn’t comprehend how that happened. How could an accident like that happen twice? Terrorism wasn’t in my vocabulary.

The rest of the day is chaotic blur in my memory…

  • watching the events unfold on the TV in our conference room
  • trying to connect with loved ones on the phone but only getting through on email
  • walking 40 blocks north with a coworker to her friend’s apartment and happy that I’d worn flats instead of heels
  • hearing the fighter jets over Manhattan and being afraid, a feeling that wouldn’t go away for a long time
  • taking a ferry from Manhattan back to New Jersey that evening that almost capsized when everyone rushed to one side to see another WTC building collapse
  • talking to my mom and crying
  • finally getting home – the next day – and wondering how life could go on

Ten years later, the world around me has definitely changed but I don’t think my life has turned out all that different for having been in New York on September 11. For awhile, the experience defined me. Healing took a long time. But life does and has gone on. I will never forget that day but I can now face it without fear.

This year, as in year’s past, I will observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. and then I will go about my day. I will not watch the endless television coverage. I lived it. That was enough.

How will you mark the tenth anniversary?

Photo: Lower Manhattan as seen from New Jersey, taken a few days after September 11. The smoke was fading but still visible.

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