I was at work at Simon & Schuster in Rockefeller Center
that morning when my boss, Wendy Nicholson, cried out, “Oh My God!”
“What?” I asked.
“A plane flew into one of the towers of the World Trade
“Whoa! What was it, a
Cessna?” I asked. Those things seemed to
always be crashing. I’m embarrassed to
say I was almost flippant about it. That’s
what living in New York will do to you.
“Oh My God!” she
called out again. “Another plane has
flown into the second tower!”
I ran into her office as she was turning on her TV. We started to watch the coverage, sporadically
glancing at each other over the next few minutes not comprehending.
Finally my brain unfroze and I said, “There is no way this
is a coincidence, it must be terrorism.”
We continued to watch the coverage, I don’t remember much of
what happened in the interim. I think
Wendy made some calls, she knew someone who worked there. A guy a few floors up had a wife who worked
The first tower fell.
I gripped the edge of her desk “Oh my god, it’s falling, it’s falling!”
I think sometime between the first and the second tower’s
collapse I called Rick. He didn’t even
know what was happening. He’d been at
home working on school stuff.
After the second tower collapsed they decided we had better
evacuate. As we were in a landmark
complex and who knew however many planes were going to fall out of the sky. I wrote an email to everyone in my address
list saying that we were evacuating the building. If a plane hit Rockefeller Center, at least
they would know I had gotten out.
I met up with my friends from my old department and we left
the building. I can’t remember if we
took the stairs or elevators, probably the stairs. One of my friends was really worried about
her friend who works at the WTC and she couldn't get a hold of her.
We stepped outside and it was a warm, breezy, beautiful
day. Not a cloud in the sky. I took a look south and saw the plume. It was many miles away and yet visible. I turned my back on it and started to walk
north with thousands of other New Yorkers.
There was no wailing or crying or screaming, just silence. I've never been in a place with so many
people and it be so quite. Everyone just
Occasionally a plane would fly overhead and everyone’s head
would shoot up to look. They were
military aircraft at this point. It was
so strange to see them flying over the city.
I parted ways with my friends in the middle of Central Park. I was heading further north than they
were. I had walked home on many
occasions in fine weather as it was only about three miles or so.
When I had gotten home there weren't any new
developments. Some family members and
friends had called to check up on me. We
walked over to the hospital to donate blood.
A lot of people were there with the same idea. Our names and phone numbers were taken in
case it was needed. We never got a call.
I don’t remember much about the rest of that day. My boss called that evening telling me to not
go in to work the next day.
I wish I had gone in to work. The wind had changed direction and the next
day I could smell it with every inhale.
It smelled like burning plastic. Every
breath was a fresh reminder. I just
watched the television coverage and felt like nothing would ever be the same
again. At one point I just had to stop
watching. The local stations gave time
to people searching for their missing loved ones. They’d hold up a photo and beg for anyone who
has seen them to call in. It was too
much for me.
The day after that, I did go back to work. My subway train was one that went to the WTC
and the new stopping point announcement brought fresh tears to my eyes. The subway was quiet. The streets were quite, no one honked or
shouted. I remember hearing someone
laugh down the hall at work and got really angry. WHAT ON EARTH COULD POSSIBLY BE FUNNY? Laughter seemed heartless.