I was in Lower Manhattan the day of the attacks. It wasn’t planned or anything. My mother worked on Wall Street and needed to go to a meeting before she took me up to school in New Hampshire. I remember looking at the skyline that morning and the night before because I knew I wouldn’t see it for a while. I wasn’t planning on coming home for another month and a half. I remember it being beautiful.
As we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, we heard it on the radio. A fire at the World Trade Center. As we looked up, we hadn’t a clue as to what had happened. We proceeded to her office. As we got out of the van, we could hear this sound, like a missile. I put my hands to my ears and noticed the windows on a nearby window shake. I ran to the corner, knowing that something had happened. My mother went up to her building while my grandmother and I stood on the corner. The second plane had already hit. We stood looking up with the thousands of other people in lower Manhattan. We couldn’t believe what was going on. I remember the people crying all around me. A woman’s friend was at Window’s on the World. Another woman speaking Spanish cried, “Mi hijo esta en el edificio.” My son is in the building. I went to buy a camera so I could have my own record of history, not thinking that the buildings would fall or that thousands of people would die that day.
When we made our way back to the corner, a man came up to me and said “Those buildings are very strong.” And just like that, minutes after he had uttered those words, the first building fell. I lost it. I started screaming, shaking. Those around me were in shock also. And then someone yelled and I was forced to look straight ahead. The cloud of debris was headed my way.
My grandmother and I ran as fast as we could. She was a bad knee and before long had to walk fast. The cloud engulfed us as we made our way to the East River. Soon the sun above us could barely be seen. The sky was the color of dust. The sun was just a bright spot in a dull sky. Where had the beauty gone?
I was sure that we were going to die. I had no clue whether my mom was all right. We spend two hours looking for my mother. We sat at the South Street Seaport. I cried, praying to God. My grandmother couldn’t comfort me. She needed to find her daughter.
I got home seven hours later, after a tugboat ride, two buses, and a cab. Ever since that day, I am extra jumpy. NYC is no longer a comforting place to be. And I am just so grateful that there wasn’t more destruction, but am so saddened that I stood and watched people suffering and didn’t, couldn’t do anything to help.