Thursday, September 13, 2001.
Thursday, September 13, 2001.
Tuesday, on my way to work, from the window of the bus at 6th Avenue and 14th Street I saw the first tower on fire.
Everyone got off the bus and stood in the streets. We thought there had been an accident. The second plane flew in and I thought they were going to drop in extinguishing material on the fire. Then I saw the plane go into the second tower. I let out a gasp of horror with the crowd witnessing the explosion, all of us in shock and dazed.
We stood in groups, shoulder to shoulder around cars to hear the radio reports. I learned it was a terrorist attack and also heard the news of the pentagon. I kept making my way downtown, thinking, "I have to get to work." I watched the twin towers collapse from 6th Avenue and Houston.
An air force plane flew over causing panic, running, and screaming. I was crying, everyone was crying, I started wandering back home. I ran into a stranded co-worker, Diane, and we walked together toward my apartment. I dialed out constantly, automatically, to reach my staff, family, and people close to me.
No one had cellular service.
Lines formed around pay phones.
In Washington Square Park my phone rang. It was my mother. I was still crying and my battery was about to die on my phone, I told her I was ok. I saw people covered in ash, on the backs of their shirts, in their hair, and started looking for ashen shoes.
I got home and it was hours before I could dial out again, the phones off and on throughout the day. I walked with Diane to the Williamsburg Bridge so she could go home to her husband. We made our way south along the FDR, residents handed out cups of water.
I left Diane at the entrance to the bridge. I wanted to walk across, but would not be let back in as no one was allowed to enter the city, only exit. There were thousands of people on the bridge from one end to the other and an eerie absence of cars.
I walked back to 14th Street and put on my tennis shoes. On Avenue A and 14th Street, an artist named Chico was beginning work on a new mural. He painted the two towers on fire. I walked up 14th Street, I stood in the middle of 5th Avenue at 5 p.m. and took photos of where the towers used to fill in the skyline. Now black smoke billowed out and up through the hole drifting east.
I walked through Washington Square Park where the arch framed a smoky sky and up to the center of Broadway at West 4th Street. NYU buses sat parked, abandoned and dark. City buses passed, one marquee read �call police� the other �out of service�. No taxis and no civilian cars were on the road, only police cars, government cars, army and national guard trucks, ambulances, sirens screaming north and south and sprinkles of residents still walking home.
I went up 3rd Avenue to 19th Street to donate blood or volunteer at the hospital. They were out of staff to draw the blood and out of bags to store it. My legs ached.
I called my family. The phones were a mess. I still only get one TV channel and call friends with satellite TV to find out the latest national information. I fell asleep on the couch with the TV on. At 3 a.m. a friend called from Italy, it was the first time she had been able to get through.
On Wednesday I tried to absorb all the news. I heard �act of war� and thought of bombing entire countries.
I felt racist.
I cleaned obsessively, scrubbing my bathroom tiles with steel wool. I talked on the phone almost constantly to everyone everywhere. I tried to volunteer or donate blood again, but the hospitals were full.
The streets were now closed off from 14th Street south. Police and State Troopers lined the cross walks. I wondered if they were hungry or thirsty. I asked if I could go as far as 13th Street to buy a paper, then found out none were delivered that far south.
I thought of people I haven�t thought of in years and wasn�t sure if I should pay my bills or hoard away all my money and wait. I walked around aimlessly. I took photos of the mural, now completed by Chico on Avenue A, candles and crosses filling the sidewalk below it.
I talked to my brother until 2 a.m. and asked him why God allowed this to happen.
It is day three now. I have not slept in my bed yet. I sleep on the couch with my cell phone and regular phone beside me. I have taken over a hundred photos of the empty skyline, vigils, state troopers, and couples wearing surgical masks.
I am tired of talking about it and can�t stop talking about it. My throat is sore. I have small blisters from walking another 50 or 60 blocks today.
It is truly enormous what has happened.
There is no right way to deal with it.
There is no right way to feel it.
There is no right way to say it.
For now I am praying and I am eating and I am restless walking around wandering.