#314 | Friday, December 7th 2001
I was in my studio apartment in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11. My friends across the hall ran it and said "Are you seeing this?" On turned on CNN, it was right after the 2nd plane hit the WTC. We went on my balcony and could see the smoke and flames. I remembering thinking "what the hell is this, WW3?
My friend heard on the new s that one crashed in the pentagon. we were so shocked, and worried because one of my roomates had a father who worked in the WTC. He literally ran out down stairs to get tto the WTC, and his Dad was standing there, thanking God he decided to go to work late that day.

tolkein | 21 | New York

#310 | Wednesday, December 5th 2001
its amazing how many of the descriptions of things on this site are so detailed. most of the day was a complete blur for me so i will recount things as i remember them. my mother woke me up and was telling me to turn on the tv and we are being attacked and just generally freaking out. i had no idea what was going on so i turned on the tv and at that moment i saw live footage (i believe) of the second plane that hit the second building at the world trade center. all day after that i was glued to the tv and dont remember so much as moving until much later that night. shortly after i turned the tv on, my girlfriend who is from australia called me on the phone, i wasnt really expecting to hear from her cuz it was like midnight there but she had seen all the stuff on tv and was calling to see how i was. we ended up having a deep conversation about all the possible implications that this could have. after i got off the phone with my girlfriend i really dont remember much except hearing all the details of the plane that went down in pennsylvania and other possible threats occuring. it was definitely the scariest day of my life and probably will remain as that for the duration of my life. i hope so. thankfully no one that i know personally was injured or killed in the attacks.
Dylan Farrell | 21 | New York

#306 | Saturday, December 1st 2001
I was home at the time from work due to a foot injury.When my friend called me at 9:02 am and told me to turn the tv on.What came on the screen took me almost 5 minutes to comprehend.I could not believe this was happening.All the years i have and been delivering to the center and around Manhattan.I felt guilty to say i was lucky when we now know how many have perished.When you see it on tv and then happen to pass the gravesite words cannot explain the pain ...
Paul Rebello | 33 | New York

#297 | Wednesday, November 28th 2001
I was in a high risk building only a few blocks away when it happened. I heard the first plane hit when I was in a store in the lobby of the building. I stood still for a few seconds in case my building started crumbling. I'd run to the exit quick. It did not, so I returned to my office. Someone non-chalantly tells me that a plane flew into the Trade Center. From the way she said it, it seemed like a one-man do-it-yourself plane flew into one of the windows. Someone pulled out a tv from under her desk and we were shocked to see the vision. I was so hurt for not only the people who were instantly gone, but for the people who were stuck on the floors above, if they were still alive. What a way to spend the last 10 minutes of life!

I went to my office and cried. I cried for the people who were stuck. Trapped. Thinking about what they should have done during their short lives. Who they should have hugged or kissed more. What they should have eaten, where they should have traveled, and what money they should have spent.

I heard the next impact and couldn't move for a few seconds. I thought their building exploded. Isn't that what happens in the Die Hard movies? Impact, then explosion. Then someone comes and saves the day.

My sister called and told me that two planes hit the Trade Center, they think it was deliberate and get out of that building now. That's all I needed to know! I put my sneakers on, and flew out of the building. Ran up north. I was on Survival Mode. I surprised myself. I had no time to chat, or hold hands or coax anyone into leaving. If my co-workers didn't want to act quickly, then they were on their own. After all, we could have been next. WE COULD HAVE BEEN NEXT.

I was far up north by the time the buildings collapsed. When I found out, I cried. What else could you do? I shopped there, took the E train to Chambers, right underneath the building - and I even passed by people every morning who were going into that building to work. How many of them were gone?

Since then I've realized that nothing is too expensive for my budget. My wish is my command. I am alive for a reason. I refused to wake another morning dreading the day, hating my life during the hours I spent in the office. For almost 10 years I hated Monday through Friday. Sundays were getting bad, too, since they lead into Mondays. I left my position as a paper pusher at an inept agency that treats hard-working employees poorly. I began my own home- based business and am doing well. I have no more psychosomatic problems - disgestive problems, headaches, insomnia. I'm waiting for my arthritis to disappear,as well!

So many people lost their lives. I decided to live my life to its fullest not only in honor of them, but because I'm thankful for this special gift! The Gift of Life!

A. | 32 | New York

#292 | Monday, November 26th 2001
I work directly across the street from the South Tower of the WTC. On the morning of the attacks I was 2 blocks north of the WTC.

This is what I remember. Getting off the A train at Chambers Street, feeling guilty for running late. I had been busy taking care of things at the house, picking up dry cleaning, washing the dishes, and as usual I let it encroach on the time I needed to leave to get ready for work. I was reading as I walked up the stairs to the level with the token booth, a collection of John Cheever stories. I put the book away as I merged into the crowd heading downhill to the Trade Center Mall. As I walked I noticed that everyone was being turned back, that no one was allowed to head toward the mall. There were no cops or transit workers that far up that were telling people what was going on, and I heard someone say “there was a terrorist attack.” Someone asked me what was going on as we headed calmly to the stairs to the street and I said “I just heard it was a terrorist attack, but you know that’s probably a rumor – you know how easy rumors start.” No one in the subway station seemed very worried; just another day in New York, maybe there was a police action in the Mall or a bomb scare. As I was pushed up to the street with the rest of the crowd, people started to yell, “oh my God, the Trade Center!” I looked up and saw smoke billowing out of the North Tower. The smoke was dense and grey and well-shaped, almost like smoke in a movie. And in the smoke were white sheets of paper, suspended in the plumes of smoke, floating calmly like birds. I walked to the corner and looked up closer at the tower and saw that the floor where the explosion had been was on fire. In my mind I was already mitigating the number of deaths, thinking just the people who had been in very close proximity to the explosion would be effected. I thought about what I knew of the first attack and remember that almost miraculously only a few people had died. In my mind I was assessing the damage and thinking that maybe 20 or so unlucky people had been killed. I pictured the rest of the people heading down the stairs, scared but calm, prepared by the first attack and all the stories we’ve all heard to get out of the building.

I tried my cell phone. I knew that by now this would be on the news. I wanted to call my girlfriend or someone at work and tell them I was alright. I dialed her pager a couple of times and realized my service was out. I looked up at the smoking Tower and realized the antennas must have been affected. I decided to walk to work, to use the phone there and find out what was going on and make sure everyone was ok. People around me were stopping and staring. I heard someone say that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t know if I should believe them, and immediately pictured a small two-person plane veering inexplicably off course.

As I headed down the block, a loud explosion sounded overhead. I know now it was the second plane hitting the South Tower. I’ve heard other people say that it was the loudest explosion they’d ever heard. To me it sounded almost muffled, it sounded far away. I knew it was a big explosion by the quality of the sound, but my first emotion wasn’t panic or fear, it was sadness. I thought it was a secondary explosion triggered by the first incident. Before I could synthesize this thought much further, I realized debris was flying down at me through the air. Everyone started to run and scream. I was on a side street and I was one of only a few people who had been standing on that particular side walk. I ran toward the corner, thinking I should get into the Hallmark store on Church Street. I saw big chunks of glass flying down at me, and the streets were covered in glass and pieces of building. My mind couldn’t put together how this far away explosion could have caused all this debris to rain down around us. Finally I made my way to the corner, ran past the Hallmark and into a building lobby. Maybe a minute had passed since I had heard the explosion.

The lobby of the building I had run into was sloped down; it felt like I had run into a bunker. It was cool and dark and filled with people just like me, looking for a safe place to hide from whatever was happening on the streets outside. I found a place to lean against next to a woman who was mopping her forehead with a tissue and breathing heavily. I asked her if she was ok, and she said yes, that she had been hit in the back with a piece of building, but that she felt ok. She had left her inhaler at home that morning though and was having a hard time catching her breath. On the other side of me was a hysterical woman with a cane and a heavy Staten Island accent, telling no one in particular that “God had been with her” and that she nearly been hit by a building, and was this lobby safe? Was it safe to stay here? I tried to calm her down, concerned that she would get other people more upset. She slowly calmed down. People all around us were trying their cell phones over and over again. We heard rumors that two planes had hit the Towers. I didn’t know if I should believe them. People were incredibly calm, helping one another, trying to figure out what to do. Finally a cop came and told us we should all leave the building, that the area was being evacuated, that we should walk north. We were all scared to leave; we’d heard rumors that there had been bombs throughout downtown.

I walked out onto the street. People were walking north, stopping and looking overhead, stunned. Some people had disposable cameras and were taking pictures of the smoking towers. I just wanted to get to a phone to call my family and let them know I was ok. The feeling of walking north with the crowd, all of us deeply in shock was beyond words. I walked by what I now know was the engine to one of the planes, sitting in the middle of Church Street, cordoned off by yellow police tape. In one of the stores nearby I saw a small group of injured people who had been hit by the debris and were getting medical attention. I walked by the Federal Building and felt a wave of fear; I just wanted to get somewhere populated by anonymous businesses and shorter buildings. Every pay phone had a huge line since no cell phones were working. The further north I walked the more people were gathered around cars with their radios turned on, listening to the news, stunned. That’s how I hear the Pentagon had been hit. Everything I did felt insubstantial, meaningless, possibly dangerous. I can’t explain it. It felt ridiculous to be wandering the streets as NY and DC were being attacked. But there was nothing else I could do.

I finally found an available payphone in Soho. I started to call work, somehow thinking that they would still be there. I realize now that it was completely illogical of me to think my coworkers would still be at work after two terrorist attacks right outside our windows. I then realized I could call my girlfriend’s mother collect, yet as I was dialing I saw people running and screaming. I dropped the phone and started to run, sure that another attack was occurring. As I rounded the corner I realized that people were running to see the South Tower collapse. The South Tower is directly across the street from my office. My mind went blank. I didn’t feel sorrow or horror. I just felt totally shut down. I kept walking North. I found a payphone with a line of 10 people and decided that I had to stand and wait to call someone. As I was waiting in line I saw the North Tower collapse. People stood on the street crying. Others just stood there looking blank and helpless. People didn’t know what to do. They wanted to talk to each other, but no one knew what to say. I finally got my girlfriend’s mother on the phone, told her I was ok and asked her to call my family and my girlfriend and let them know I was ok. I walked to a friend’s apartment in Chelsea, and spent a few hours there watching the news and trying to figure out how to get back home to Brooklyn.

That afternoon I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. From my friend’s house that is about a 2 hour walk. I headed south and east, knowing that much of lower Manhattan was closed. I was directed through many detours in the confusing streets of Chinatown by various cops, and finally walked over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn. It was an eerie walk; the skyline was filled with smoke, people stood on the bridge quietly taking pictures. The whole way across I was petrified the bridge would be bombed, even though logically I knew that was unlikely.

When I got into my neighborhood everything was covered in ash and the air smelled horrible. My apartment was covered with a film of ash, and even though it was warm out I had to shut the windows to close out the terrible smell. I checked my machine and found 16 messages from worried family and friends. It was only then that I started to realize how terrible this all was. I started making phone calls, and it felt like days before I called everyone back. My girlfriend is a health care professional and had expected to be held at her hospital for a day or two to take care of the victims; sadly after her 8 hour shift she was sent home, there was nothing left to do.

We only had one station of TV for a week or two, and we sat glued to it every chance we could. I started to feel like I couldn’t go outside. I wouldn’t sit with my back to a window due to an irrational fear that a bomb would hit outside the window and injure me. Every plane overhead put me on edge. My family was terrified for me; I spoke to them many times a day, all of us crying, our nerves raw. I found out that all my coworkers were ok, but that they had escaped our building only 15 minutes before the collapse and had seen terrible things that none of them will talk about. An acquaintance lost her husband who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. She has two young girls.

Two and a half months later it still feels too soon to really analyze how these attacks have affected my life. I’m not sure yet how it has changed us as a city, but I do know I’ve never felt as proud of New Yorkers as I have in these terrible weeks. We are still here, living our lives despite the very real fear of future attacks. We look out for one another. We joke and kid and try our hardest to find our way back to the normal happy chaos of NY life. Yet there is not a day that goes by that I don’t replay that morning in my head. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of all the lives that were lost.

J. Arseneault | 31 | New York

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