On September 11, 2001, I was a sophomore in college at Pace University - Pleasantville Campus. School had JUST begun. We were all getting back into a familiar routine. I had a tight group of friends I made my Freshman Year and we were now all living in the same dorm. My roommate was a close friend from high school. The day was gorgeous and life couldn't have felt any less simple.
That morning, I woke up to an empty room. My roommate had already left for school and my classes started much later. It was about 8:50am when I noticed that I had seven missed calls from my parents and my sister. I typically kept the phone on silent because I didn't want phone calls to disrupt our sleep. I also wasn't the type to get ready with the television on. I liked peace in the morning. For me, sitting around with a bowl of cereal in a quiet room was the perfect morning.
My first thought was, they're probably all freaking out since I was no longer home. My freshman year, I received many calls from my parents "just checking in." I thought, "I'd just call back after I eat my breakfast" but something compelled me to call my mother back and when I did she was frantic and asked if I knew what was going on. I said no. My mom worries a lot and I thought that this was just another one of those moments. Regardless, I took her advice and turned the television on and switched the channel to the Today Show.
At 9:13 am, I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
The shock that ran through my body and the feeling of helplessness is something I can't forget. It was like watching a movie but this was real life. This was New York. This was close to home. This WAS home. This was serious. At that point, the news stations began reporting that this couldn't have been coincidence, that it must have been terrorists. I can't recall what happened after. I know I placed a call to my parents. I know I called my roommate to see if she was okay. I remember asking her to come back to the room and I know that I opened the door of my dorm because I didn't want to feel alone anymore.
A number of hours later, a friend of mine and I took a drive to a park in Westchester where the NY skyline was once very visible. At that point, it was all smoke. We prayed. Pace also asked everyone to meet at the dining hall. The television was on and EVERYONE left their rooms to join together. We were informed that the students in the NYC campus had to leave their dorms, that many of them saw the planes hit the World Trade Center from their bedroom windows and that there was a lot of grief. They decided to move those students temporarily to our campus. Everyone understood. That day, we were all friends, we were all a family. It was a moment when our cliques didn't matter. Seniors consoled freshman and everyone felt the same pain.
We felt helpless. Sitting on our campus in Westchester, we were "safe" yet we all knew that no one was really safe and that things had changed FOREVER.
A couple of weeks after 9/11, my sister and I decided to go downtown. (The pictures on this post come from that day). We felt we needed to pay our respects. I believe we walked from 14th street as far down as we were allowed to go. We saw so many beautiful memorials to those lost. We saw streets that were once familiar looking so different -like we were in a third world country. Businesses were closed, the ash, the dust, the papers - everything was everywhere and the familiarity of a busy NYC street was lost. That day, everyone walking through NYC was a friend.
It's been a decade now and so much has changed yet every September 11, that feeling of helplessness, fear, and confusion always comes back.
Today, I remember.