My 9/11

  1. I was living at 33 Gold St. when it happened. Just a few blocks east of the towers.
  2. We were home. I was kissing my girlfriend goodbye as I was about to leave for work.
  3. The first plane hit and it shook my building slightly. It was loud. I always describe it as the sound of dumpster getting dropped outside the building.
  4. I look out the window and see people running.
  5. I have no idea what is happening.
  6. I assume it's nothing. There's no way I could've guessed.
  7. I leave. I get to the elevator. It's not working.
  8. I take the stairs. There's a girl sitting on the stairs. Crying. Something something father something something trade center. She has a friend with her. We make eye contact. She seems cared for. I continue down to the street.
  9. The street is filled with people looking west.
  10. Police cars and unmarked black vehicles with tinted windows drive at obscene speeds west.
    If they had hit a pedestrian they wouldn't have stopped.
  11. Someone tells me a plane crashed into the towers. Everyone is in shock. "It was a UPS plane, I think..", someone else says.
  12. I walk a block closer and can see the first tower burning.
  13. I return home. Looking back, the second one must've hit while I was walking up the stairs to my apartment.
  14. I relay the events to my girlfriend who's still in bed.
  15. I'm confused. I'm in shock. We don't know what to do. I grab 3 cameras. We leave together.
  16. We get back to the street and walk blocks closer to the towers. Both are burning.
  17. We see a woman in her sixties walking the other direction. She has blood all over her face. She stops and looks back at it and mutters something about her husband. She continues on.
  18. We walk closer. Cars, fire engines, etc continue to speed towards the site.
  19. We're in shock, still. Obviously. I can't process it. I take a polaroid. I take a few with my 35mm, as well.
    This photo is the Polaroid.
  20. We continue to stand and stare at the burning towers.
  21. One of us says, "It looks like parts of the building are falling off the top."
  22. The other says, "I think those are people."
  23. We stand in shock. We aren't processing anything. It's too much to understand.
  24. We must've been standing there like 20 minutes.
  25. We decide we need to go to work. We have no idea what we're supposed to do.
  26. We turn off of Fulton street and head north.
  27. We go about a half of a block when we feel the rumble of the first tower falling. We're about 3 blocks away.
  28. People are running in every direction because most don't know what's happening.
  29. The dust cloud covers us. People are mostly silent and running as well. Some people are yelling that a bomb went off in the subway. We run north, looking back south, almost tripping over curbs, etc. Just running.. confused and scared.
  30. We get blocks away. There's less panic. Just silence and large groups of people also walking north.
  31. We decide to walk to our friend's apartment in the East Village. The sky is a perfect fucking blue.
  32. We walk past crowds of people peeking into bodegas, restaurants.. anywhere with a television. Stunned silence and sobbing.
  33. We get to about Canal street when the second tower falls. A construction worker announces what is happening. Everyone turns around and watches. Gasps and then more silence.
  34. There's dust all over me, but it's more noticeable on my girlfriend's black dress.
  35. Phones haven't worked in a while. We still don't really know what has happened. We just continue to our friend's place. At this point, I think my apartment is gone, but that doesn't matter. There was so much going on, that just seemed like trivia.
  36. We get to our friend's place finally. They hug us and we go to a diner with a television. They don't have one. No one I knew did, really.
  37. We don't order food. We just sit there and watch the television. We look at our coffee, but don't really drink it.
  38. We'll talk for like 3 minutes about what happened and then have to stop. We will be silent for 10. Then repeat.
  39. Eventually we walk to Brooklyn over the Williamsburg bridge. That's where my girlfriend lived.
  40. My apartment wasn't destroyed. A couple days later we go back to collect a few things even though I know I can't stay there. We didn't even know if we could get in.
    We could. My block was the first block that didn't need an armed escort for entry. I get to my apartment. The stove is detached from the wall and disconnected from the gas line. I grab enough clothes for a week or so and then need to leave.
  41. We need to leave. We're worried about the air and we aren't supposed to be in the building very long.
  42. The streets are covered in dust, trash, debris. There's crushed cars.
  43. We return to Brooklyn.
  44. By this point, I've openly sobbed in the streets countless times and will continue to do so for months.
    The pictures of the missing that line the street and parks destroy me every time. I just see walls of the dead. I can only look for so long before I sob. Footballs left by children next to photos of their fathers stand out to me.
  45. I find out a few days after the event my friend's sister worked at the Windows To The World restaurant at the top of one of the towers.
    She was working that morning and didn't make it out.
  46. Other friends were luckier.
    One worked in the towers and left late for work. A friend of a friend didn't listen to people saying they should stay and exited the towers just as it was starting to collapse. He ran and made it.
  47. I move to Brooklyn in the spring.