On the morning of September 11, 2001, I had just boarded the subway at the World Trade Center, on my way to my job in SoHo, when for some reason, the subway doors stayed open for longer than usual. I remember feeling annoyed that I was probably going to be late for work if the train didn’t get moving soon. Then I heard a thunderous boom, and several of us thought it was a bomb. We exited the subway station and came out into the sunshine to see papers flying everywhere, dust and dirt swirling, and cars pushed into mailboxes and up on curbs.
Not having any idea what had happened, I just casually followed the crowd up the stairs, out of the parking lot, and across the street. I was standing in front of a cell phone store when I saw the second plane hit. The wing sliced right into the building, and a huge fireball erupted. A bunch of us ran into the store behind us, but we were quickly ushered out and told to head toward the South Street Seaport. I couldn’t get service on my cell phone, and I remember my biggest concern was that I couldn’t call my boss to let her know that I was going to be late. It was shortly after that that I found myself running away from a huge gray cloud–I would learn that night that one of the towers had fallen.
After running and walking for a while, I proceeded to continue walking 40 blocks to Port Authority, still having no idea what was really going on. I passed people who were getting spotty reception on portable radios, and they were telling everyone that the Pentagon was “hit,” too; again, I still didn’t know what that meant. On my way uptown, I was finally able to call my boyfriend (who would become my husband two years later). I also finally was able to call my mom to tell her I was okay; that was three hours after the first plane hit.
I finally arrived at Port Authority and took a ferry back to New Jersey. I then took a New Jersey Transit train to Little Falls, where my now-husband picked me up. Even when he told me what was going on, I still couldn’t quite grasp it. I think I was numb. The gravity of the day’s events didn’t really hit me until I saw the news that night. The constant footage of the planes hitting…of the towers collapsing…. I finally realized how close I had been to Ground Zero. That I had passed through that building that morning–a building that no longer stood in the New York City skyline. I was so shaken that I stayed home from work for a week.
It’s amazing that as I write this 17 years later, my hands still shake and my heart still races as I relive the events of that day. The images, sounds, smells–everything is just as raw and vivid and alive as they were that morning. I lived to tell about my experience on September 11, 2001. And I will never forget.