It’s eerie how much today was like that day. It was bright, beautiful, and cool, just like today.
I struggled out of bed into my living room and turned on some morning news program, as was my custom at the time. Every morning the same cheery cast of characters told me banal stories that had no importance in my life. I got a cup of coffee and sat down on the futon in a daze of sleep and my usual morning “cheeriness.”
Today is beautiful, and now over to Sheri with the traffic report…
Nothing important. Boring. I turned off the sound on the morning news and focused on assembling my computer in the corner of my living room. I had just gotten a new freelance design job and decided I would go to work late to put my computer together and get it all running for the big job. It took me about 15 minutes, and I hopped into the shower to congratulate a job well done with a good scrub.
I toweled myself off from the shower and heard a dull thud that sounded like a car backfiring nearby. I looked at the television, the news people were still happily chirping soundlessly, and I turned off the television. Looking at the clock, I realized I was late, got dressed, and got out of the house in minutes. I had gotten as far as the subway entrance when I noticed people coming out of the subway station. One of the people leaving mentioned something about an accident. Being the pessimist I am and needing information from authorized personnel I decided to get information from the subway clerk and continued into the station.
Below ground, it was pandemonium. People were asking the subway clerk not for instructions but for information about the plane.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this was serious. No trains. Nothing was running. Go home. I walked across the street, back to my apartment, and saw a few people walking towards the Connecticut Muffin. I went back upstairs and turned on the television. These were different from the people I remembered. They were not cheery, but instead looked like ghosts and flash; the picture changed to the Twin Towers one had a gash along its side and was smoking. I turned up the volume and heard the reports about a plane hitting tower one as if in a replay, an explosion in tower two and the second plane hit. Then as before, a dull thud from outside.
It was at this point that I realized this was not accidental. It was terrorism and not bad flying, as I had initially rationalized it. Family called me, making sure I was alright. The phone call disconnected mid-call. It was all very confusing.
My girlfriend at the time got through and asked me to pick her up at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where she worked. As I was on the phone, the first tower fell; this time, I heard it before the television showed it. It was a rolling noise, like dragging a concrete block across a concrete floor. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I got my girlfriend. We barricaded ourselves in the apartment. I got a kitchen knife and had it at the ready. We feared the poisonous cloud of gas that the terrorists would soon release. The poison gas never came. Nor did the terrorists. It was a panicky time.
All I can remember from the days after was what would come to be known as “the smell.” It was everywhere. You would choke from the horrible burned plastic and sheetrock smell. It would change with the wind, and sometimes you wouldn’t smell anything, and then sometimes it would be so thick you’d smell it when you got home. It went away for about two months.
Two years later, I still think about it.