Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Many are retelling their personal experiences from 12 years ago today. Thought I'd share as well. I awoke 9/11/01 to a large noise that I attributed to thunder, though there was no rain. I walked to my kitchen to make coffee and saw people running on the roof next to mine, and odd site to say the least. I yelled out the window “what happened?” and one guy yelled back “The World Trade Center just blew up”... Not what I was expecting to hear to say the least. I’d loved the Twin Towers actually, dating back to the Bicentennial in 1976, when I went to a party in Windows On the World with my father and brother. My father had a sculpture installation up there and I remember being amazed I could sit in a window that protruded outwards and I could look down under at the street (which seemed like a mile away). I spent other memorable times in and around WTC as well, their were some memorable late night parties in the Towers in the mid-90s, and I had just been down their 2 days prior to the attack working some promotional job.

Back to that day, I immediately tried to turn on some news so I could see/hear what had happened, but the only channel I could get that morning (and for the next few weeks) was AM 1010 WINS. Upon hearing the News, I decided to go down there and check it out myself. Hopping on my bicycle I booked down, riding along the East River and made it in before they’d completely closed off the area… probably not the smartest thing to do, or healthiest with no mask, but I felt the need to see what had just went down firsthand. The experience was horrifying. Blocks upon blocks upon blocks of chaos, it looked like pictures I’d seen of 1983 Beirut. I waded on my bike through foot deep of debris; ashes, paper, shoes left behind, it was everywhere. There were totaled cars halfway in broken store windows and an eerie silence but for the choppers overhead. No one was saying “you can’t be here” or anything, everyone was simply stunned and just trying to figure out what to do and where to look. I must have stayed down there two-three hours, surveying the scene and helping out whomever I could that needed a hand and/or to be pointed in a specific direction. I collected some burned scraps of paper that I still have, some saying American Airlines, some saying Goldman Sachs, some from very high floors in the towers… chilling.

The weeks that followed were like none I could ever imagine. The two people I immediately thought of who worked at the Trade Ctr. thankfully both did not go to work that day, for whatever reason. One saying he “wasn’t sick, but just had a feeling he should stay home” that day. Life below 14th Street, where we had to show our drivers licenses at checkpoints, was surreal. I lost my restaurant job because there were no customers and finding work again proved very difficult for quite some time. I fielded calls non-stop from family and friends outside of the city who knew I and my family were here, hoping we were alright. Many saying “get out”. This was a singular event here I hope never to experience anything like ever again, but New York is my home, plus those who’ve lived here all know that , well, it’s not the easiest place to “get out” of.

The years following 9/11 saw the US and our weirdly empowered President escalate a bogus War, and our City turn to a multi-millionaire Mayor who's seemed to forget real New Yorkers in lieu of welcoming the International elite to our streets with open arms. Wall Street is still thriving while the rest of US can only try to keep up with the sharply rising cost of living. We’ve built two baseball stadiums here and countless luxury hotels yet we still haven’t finished building at Ground Zero... Things really did change here, there and everywhere that day. It’s hard to believe 12 years have gone by. My heart go out to those who lost love ones that day and in the days, weeks and years that have followed because of that day. Collectively, we lost a lot it seems, and it’s left a hole larger than Ground Zero, for as a city, a country, a people, we’ve continued to lose a lot more in many ways since that day. Here's hoping the days of losing are soon over and days of learning from it are to come.

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