#82 | Tuesday, September 18th, 2001
I was getting a shower when it was actually going on. I had read someone's away message asking if someone they knew was okay because they were working in the World Trade Center. Then I saw a headline saying that a plane had hit the WTC. I tried to get to the news websites but could not. Then my friends mom called and said that the WTC had been bombed. I was heading to class and heard that the Pentagon had been bombed. I went to class and took a quiz, but we were dismissed quickly after that. It finally stuck me that I knew people in New York. My mom works in a Federal Building in Nashville. My aunt lives near DC. So, obviously I was worried. Well, I called my mom and found out everyone was okay.
Rebecca | 19 | Tennessee

#83 | Tuesday, September 18th, 2001
i was on my way to work listening to a CD, and i had not turned on any broadcasting station. my mother called me and told me both WTC towers had been hit by commercial airplanes and the pentagon is on fire. i immediately knew it was a coordinated attack. after i arrived at work i saw all three buildings on fire on ABC. its one of those things where either you don't beleive it or you know the whole world just took a change for the worst. lets all hope and pray that the victom's families find the strength to get through this and that only the perpetraitors and their accomplices be made to suffer as a result of this horrific tragedy.
christopher | 24 | Michigan

#85 | Tuesday, September 18th, 2001
On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I awoke to chaos--loud noise, darkness, and a stomach full of knots. I killed my alarm clock, slapped at the lights and shook my head. I wasn't quite awake and I couldn't quite remember why I'd set my clock for what was usually my bedtime.

By the time I remembered that I was scheduled to be on the Upper East Side by 5:30, I had fallen back asleep, jolted awake, and angrily cursed whatever civic commitment induced me to be a poll watcher in New York's primary elections.

I showered, grabbed a bagel, and hailed a cab.

At the polls, everything went smoothly. The poll workers were chatty, happy because the sun was bright and the sky was blue. Even the police officer fumbling through unfamiliar duty was smiling. I played with my new Black Berry and mass-emailed my friends, inviting them to that night's party, which i promised would be "fun in a jubilant, open bar sort of way."

My cell rang-- Em calling to tell me a plane just hit the World Trade Center, right outside her office window. She gave me the news, but we weren't concerned. It was a weird accident and a curiosity, but she was busy with election day work and I had my own distractions at the polls. We chatted for a minute and rang off with a cheery "I love you".

By then, news had started to spread. I was talking to the police officer about how the weekend promised great beach weather. "There's been an accident at the World Trade Center," he said. "Every officer in the city has been called down there."

"So you have to go?" I asked.

"Nah, I'll keep an eye on things here," he replied.

More cell phones began to ring. In minutes, everybody knew about the plane.

Still, people were calm. Several poll workers tried to remember what year the Empire State Building was struck by a small plane. Somebody argued that it was in the 1980's. Everybody else laughed at her, including the police officer.

Soon the calls started flooding in. My cousin called. An ex-girlfriend. No, it wasn't terrorists, I told people. It was just an accident. Stop your worrying and stop jumping to conclusions. Still, when my cell stopped working and I couldn't reach Em, I started to get worried.

I left the polls, headed for downtown. I found the subways out and the streets starting to fill with stranded commuters and confused New Yorkers. Nobody had the full story.

I was headed for NYPIRG's offices down on Murray Street. I didn't know those offices were evacuated after they watched the towers collapse outside their windows. I couldn't get a cell line, and the pay phones were mobbed. When I finally got one, nobody picked up the number Em had left.

By then I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out exactly what it was. I walked from the East 90s down through Central Park and into Times Square. The streets were all chaos. People stared at the giant TV screens in Times Square, which all showed flaming buildings and smoke. Others wandered in and out of traffic. A short man I took for a government bureaucrat by his short sleeve work shirt and cheap tie was shouting that people needed to give blood. An ambulance speeding on the wrong side of 34th Street almost crashed head first into a black SUV speeding in the opposite direction.

I realized that I would never find Em in the chaos. I got as far south as the 30s before deciding to head for a landline. I knew she would call me. I tried all her numbers from my apartment on 56th and Broadway. Nothing. My secretary told me Em had called the office four times, and I decided that would be the best place to wait.

I walked to work, much as I do every morning. I stopped by Saint Clare's to give blood. The streets housing the local precinct, a municipal court, and the hospital were all barricaded.

The streets grew more crowded. Cars had difficulty threading through the confused people that paid no attention to the traffic lights. On the corner of Ninth and 51st, I saw a woman struck by a red Explorer. The crowd shouted for the police and an ambulance quickly arrived. There was blood. I won't describe it, as I'm trying desperately to forget it. By the unhurried way she was placed on the stretcher, I took her for dead. I keep hoping I'm wrong on that one. Maybe the EMT was just being extremely careful.

I hurried to work. I needed to find Em and I needed her immediately. At the office, I again dialed all the numbers I had for her. Some were down. The others rang unanswered. I left more voicemail.

I got the full story from a coworker. When I realized the extent of the destruction, I could feel my heart imploding. The one thing I needed was to know Em was safe. I hurried back to my office and stared at the phone.

The phone. Friends and family called to check in and make sure I was safe. No big deal, I told them. I'm fine. Don't worry.

But I wasn't fine. I was worried.

When Em finally called, I still felt all twisted inside. I miserably contemplated the destruction, but knew my greatest fear would not be realized. She was safe and headed for my office.

We reunited, tried not to cry, started checking in on our friends and family. I filled the hole in my chest with Em's hugs. We treated ourselves to sushi and locked ourselves in her apartment, holding each other and watching the news. As we realized how much had really happened that day, how much we had seen and felt, we felt lucky to be together and alive.

Every day since then I have given thanks for her safety and our love. I have looked out my window at the space the terrorists destroyed and grown scared. I have hoped for peace and an end to the spilling of innocent blood. I have heard the stories of friends who were there and some who have lost loved ones. I have tried to make sense of the disorder. I have slowly resumed my life, but my life will never be quite the same.
James Vasile | 24 | New York

#86 | Wednesday, September 19th, 2001
I was at work in a pretty ordinary nine story London office block, working for an Internet company of about 100 people. The first email went round declaring that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. It was 2:10pm UK time.

The email pointed to a Web page seemingly on BBC Online. My first thoughts were of a light aircraft hitting the building, like at the White House a few years ago. Then someone said it was a passenger jet. Our project office stopped and stared. It must be a sick elaborate spoof.

I checked Ananova and it was running the same story, only by now another jet had hit the second tower. We simply couldnít believe what we were reading; it was already beyond anything Hollywood had touted our way. The pictures were starting to come in across the Net, which was already creaking with traffic; I was beginning to feel sick.

People were looking around ashen-faced, willing someone to say it was all a horrible joke. Then we went to work ó we needed information and we needed it fast. Some were checking the BBC, others CNN; my source was Ananova. It wasnít some gruesome desire for gore, we just had to find out what was going on. We were so far away and yet the immediacy of the reports brought us into a situation that we were impotent to help.

Perhaps our scramble for news was there to prevent shock and imagination getting hold: there were reports of people jumping out of windows, but no pictures to support it. Was the explosion at the Pentagon another plane? Had eight aircraft really been hijacked? Where were they? Were they aiming for the White House? Would they be shot down by the F-16s that had supposedly been scrambled?

Then the first tower collapsed. The moment we heard this, a colleague rushed into our project office saying that a TV has been set up in reception. We made our way up to the first floor and realised that our entire building had stopped. The tiny television was barely visible but we were glued to it none the less. We saw for the first time the pictures of the second jet hitting the south tower. It looked like a terribly bad special effect. An eerie silence descended; hushed tones in huddles. An American colleague was standing alone, shocked but calm.

Gradually we peeled away and tried to go back to our jobs, without much success. Some people came out of a meeting, oblivious to the news. They took a lot of convincing it was all true.

Many people in the office were visibly upset and the boss sent an email went around suggesting people could go home early to be with friends and family. For one reason or another I got home an hour late. No one had been talking on the train.

I slumped on the sofa next to my girlfriend who was tearfully watching BBC News 24. She was clutching some photos taken in New York four weeks earlier. A friend she was travelling with had reminded her to photograph the famous Manhattan skyline. The terrible irony was not lost.

Itís now the following morning and Iím sitting on a commuter train surrounded by silent people, all grasping the same pictures. Some are staring out of the window, perhaps having had their fill of the horror, or looking towards the familiar pyramid atop Canary Wharf, now joined by two nearly fully grown sister buildings. It had been evacuated yesterday as a somewhat obvious target.

Hushed discussions start in small groups of familiar strangers; people who never normally converse, despite sitting in the same seats day in day out. It seems Iím not alone in my feelings of hollow numbness and pangs of guilt at yesterdays information feeding frenzy.

I canít read the paper. I can just about manage the pictures, folding the paper on my lap in between pages. And now I have to concentrate on my job; business as usual. Thatís what the mayor of New York said yesterday although I doubt he really meant it.
Richard Rutter | 29 | United Kingdom

#87 | Wednesday, September 19th, 2001
I was laying in bed, being ill, trying to get some sleep, when my mobile phone rang. It was my girlfriend, telling me that there was something terrible happening. The rest of the days after I watched CNN and visited websites
Michiel | 29 | Netherlands

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