I was there.
September 11, 2001.
I was an in-house designer for Hearst Magazines in New York City. My husband was an intern architect with Lynn Gaffney Architects. Since my husband is Mexican, we were still dealing with all the paperwork that is involved when an American marries a foreigner. He had applied for his green card when we got married in June of 2000 and in early August 2001, we had received the 2nd appointment letter from the government. We both had to appear in front of an agent to confirm that ‘this is the real deal’. I still have that letter.
Your appointment is on September 11, 2001 at 9am. Please be prompt.
We lived in Brooklyn at the time and we both took advantage that we didn’t have to be at work at 8am. We took the subway in to Union Square, 14th Street, and had breakfast together at Cosi. They had 3 TV’s mounted to different corners of the walls all broadcasting Good Morning America. We got our bagels and sat down to eat. Hearing sirens in NYC becomes second nature real fast but after the 4th fire truck drove by Cosi headed downtown, we both thought something was going on. I remember looking up at the tv when the image changed to a live shot of the World Trade Center. There was thick black smoke coming out of one of the towers. Both of us thought that was shocking to see but we had an important meeting to get to in less that 20 minutes. We caught the subway for the Financial District and missed our stop. We never went to the Financial District so we weren’t too familiar with that part of Manhattan so we got off at the next stop prepared to run 4 blocks north. The next stop was The World Trade Center. Still oblivious to what was going on above us, we came up the concrete stairs to mass hysteria. The second plane had just hit. We learned later we had been on what was to be the last subway ride downtown. Police were everywhere and fire trucks were coming from every direction. There were people screaming, crying, running…or standing in awe trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Being the visual person that I am, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the towers. Ironically, it was such a beautiful day. The sky was the most perfect shade of blue. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I will never forget the metal melting off the buildings floating towards the ground shimmering in the morning sunlight. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around what I was looking at. My husband grabbed my arm and we started running uptown. I made the mistake of looking back. A mistake that will haunt me forever. I just needed to get another glimpse of the chaos to try to understand. In that glimpse, I saw people jumping from the towers. I remember thinking ‘what kind of hell is going on inside that tower that jumping is the better option?’. I couldn’t imagine. I still can’t imagine.
This picture was taken on September 12, 2001, across the street from where my husband and I had breakfast that morning in Union Square. The police had everything south of 14th St. barricaded so this area turned into a giant memorial in the days after the attacks. This sign used to say Please Do Not Feed The Birds.
It’s 13 years later.
I remember that day like it was yesterday.
I will never forget.