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And the awakening has begun!
My recent mood does not depend on a certain event. I am currently happy and smiling because of the carefree nature I am feeling. I have no obligations besides the quenching of my thirst for life. Besides the stress of studying and my impending doom on the LSAT I am about to take in three weeks, I am on cloud eight and a half. The feeling is strange though, this feeling of not just happiness, but a happiness that is not attached to please those around me. It seems as though there is something wrong with it, but I suppose there is nothing particularly wrong with a good mood. I am not the type of person inclined to extending that good mood, necessarily, to others, but I may listen to others’ troubles and be of more assistance in supporting them as a confidant and offering a smile—the George-Clooney-of-ER smile—as a sign, to the flummoxed, the angry, the chagrined, of commiseration without having to necessarily reduce myself to sharing in the victims' purported miseries.
September 11th 2002 I woke up to a normal Tuesday morning. I can not remember a more beautiful day. The billowing cotton clouds roamed the skies of Gothom city. The birds sang with happiness and the people scurried around to another busy New York day. As I walked to the 6 train, I stopped at the corner of Lex and 34th and breathed in the fresh air. “God it’s a beautiful morning”, I though to myself. Little did I know that in the next hour New York City would face its most trying moments. Father’s would lose sons, husband’s would lose wives, children would lose parents, and we all would lose our innocence. Its hard for me to write this entry because of the emotions that come with that day. I can barely keep my eyes from tearing up. In actually, this is the first time I’ve expressed how I felt about that fateful morning. Words really can’t describe the horror, the emotions, or the loss, but I will endeavor to do my best.
At 8:45, I was watching the stock futures trade positively, a minute later they dropped drastically. I yelled out on the trading floor that something was happening in the markets and glanced towards the array of TV sets around our floor. As I watched CNBC, I was wondering why the fuck does Tower 2 have a hole in it. Maria Bartoromo of CNBC relayed the news that a plane had collided into one of the towers. I though to myself, “how did some asshole manage that. It’s a beautiful day. He had to be drunk.” Then Jeff, my row manager said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was terrorism.” There was an ominous silence that swept our row. I quickly grabbed my phone and called my Dad. “Dad wake up... turn on the TV and watch. I’ll call you back in a few.” At 9:03 there was another explosion as I watched from my building. “Whoa... how the fuck does one building being on fire, leap into the other one.” Then we heard that another plane collided with Tower 1. Whoa! Was this really happening? I’d re-enact this denial again and again in the next hours: the mind’s raw disinclination to grant this new actuality, cognitive dissonance ran riot. I’d entered - we’d all entered - a world containing a fresh category of phenomena: the unimaginable fact.
Within minutes, our building was being evacuated. As I left our building I walked outside and was amazed at the amount of people on the streets. It looked like new years in Time Square, minus the celebration. Imagine eight million people all on the streets simultaneously. There was no way I was taking the subway, so I walked towards Union Square to see if Reagan was ok. I tried using my cell but all circuits were busy. I managed to call his parents to check if he was ok and they told me that they couldn’t reach him. With nothing else I could do, I walked home.
I’ve stared and stared and felt my mind slide from it again and again: unimaginable fact, confirmed by senses and testimony, confirmed by the procession of ash-bathed faces shambling through my neighborhood, confirmed by the television and yet granted no status by reeling, refusing mind. No status whatsoever. Turning from my mind to the television, I try again: maybe CNN can sell it to me with its video loop, plane slicing cake of tower forever, the footage more ferociously lush and inevitable every time. I’ll understand this fact soon, yes no?
I glued my eyes to the television set and somehow fell asleep. When I woke up I thought it was a dream until the harsh reality hit and the sirens blazed continuously around my neighborhood. I walked outside my apartment and peered towards downtown and the sky was a chalky gray and black. The cloud of death hovered over half the city. The stench of burn wrapped its odor around Manhattan. Reagan came over that night and we drank and smoked to cope with the recent events. As I watched Dan Rathers explain the destruction left by the terror, my heart sank and my mind still confused.
The Market was closed the rest of the week, so I had time to on my hands. The next couple of days, the city that never slept fell into its first slumber. New York City for the first time was a ghost town. Nothing... no cabs... no people... just the silence of concrete. I explored Union Square and finally was able to put faces with the missing from miles of walls covered with photographs and phone numbers. “If seen please call 646-$#%-^&*^, We love you”. Candle light vigils everywhere mourning the lost souls. Tears were common on every New Yorker. As I took the subway home, I noticed everyone had their heads arched towards the ground. I peered at the girl in front of me and the emotions that built inside her could not be contained. She burst into tears and cried. My eyes teared up, but what could I do? What could a stranger do to make the pain go away? She looked at me and all I could muster before a tear rolled down my cheek was, “I’m sorry”. It was understood what she was experiencing, and for a brief moment those two words provided her some comfort.
As the days passed by, warnings of other possible terror gripped our minds. F-16 fighters roamed the skies and Air craft carriers patrolled the tributaries of Manhattan Island. Sounds of sirens constantly echoed the streets. Were we safe? Is anything else going to happen? No one knew. Everything was surreal. It was something straight out of a Bruckheimer movie. As I witness these events with my own eyes, I saw life in a different view. Everything became dearer. With all the commotion, I then realized that I was not able to speak to anyone because the towers knocked out telecommunication lines all over the city. I finally received the hundreds of voicemail that bombarded my celli. Voices I would never expect to hear from. Family asking if I was ok. Friends saying, “dude I hope you’re not dead... bye”. It was all too touching.
The reality as a New Yorker is much harder than someone who did not live here to see the actual horror and sadness with their own eyes. Being here, was overbearing. The pain sucked you in because you were surrounded by so much of it. A city that is known for its coldness and rudeness was filled with compassion and love. Everyone lent out a helping hand. I tried to give blood and volunteer but the Red Cross urged us to go home. New York City changed from the Big Apple to The Big Heart. Gradually the city mended its own wounds, and life became “normal” again. The resilience of New Yorkers and America is a powerful thing. We were knocked down, but trust that we’ll always bounce back. I LOVE NEW YORK has a new meaning to me. To all the families that lost their loved ones, my heart goes out to you. RIP WTC.
Stay strong people.