September 11, 2012

My 9/11 Memory - NYC Coming Together After Being Ripped Apart

You can say what you want about New Yorkers (& many people do) but in bad times we stick together. We show what we are made of & our true colors shine! There are certain images you can never erase from your mind, the visual is forever frozen. That's how 9/11 was for me. I was watching the morning news on TV when I first heard about the attack. I ran upstairs to the roof to see what was going on since I had an unobstructed view of the towers. It was unclear what was happening, no one really knew yet. All I could see were the bright orange flames billowing out of the Twin Towers. At first, I thought it was orange tarp blowing in the air - no way could this be happening so close to my home. There were a few other people on the roof that morning, but we were all disbelieving quiet spectators not sure what to say or do. I took a few photos & ran downstairs to my apartment to get updates on the news as it unfolded. Nothing was making any sense to me, this is New York City - we are invincible!

I feel most people can be at their best during difficult times... especially New Yorkers. We became more close, more friendly & more caring toward each other than any other time I have ever experienced. We all rallied together, we are NYC, dammit! We were all highly emotional walking around with tears in our eyes & eager to help each other. Nobody was ignored, you felt this unifying energy... it was amazing! We were sharing the horrific fear of the unknown with each other - but we were all connected. People just stopped, talked & listened. It was amazing - coming together after being ripped apart. 

I remember all the missing people flyers posted on every street corner. I remember strangers asking if you knew anyone in the towers. I remember being asked to show my ID when crossing certain streets to prove I lived there. It was almost like being in a V.I.P club that you didn't want to be in! I remember being at my favorite Mexican restaurant that was around the corner from the West Village Firehouse. All the firefighters were taken from us - they were the first responders & our first heroes. To honor the firefighters, at 7 pm there was a prayer vigil. All of us in the entire restaurant gradually got up & walked to the firehouse - some with candles, others with Margaritas, some of us with both. We made a toast & said a prayer for those brave men. Powerful stuff like that you never forget. The intense feeling of community & caring... it surrounded us.

I remember walking down to the Hudson Highway night after night cheering the crews that drove down to help at Ground Zero. We showed our support by applauding, whistling & waving - some even with homemade signs of gratitude. We lined both sides of the highway & we were strong in numbers. I remember watching the vehicles heading downtown shiny & clean, while those returning uptown were covered in ash, debris & who knows what kind of toxic chemicals. I remember the smell of the terrible air, the sight of those ashes, the sound of the piercing alarms. I cry just recalling it... maybe that's why I've tried not to think or talk about it. It's difficult to face those feelings, but I remember, I was there!

I remember the caring & neighborhood feeling that I experienced during this time - it's almost what I miss most about NYC. I thought I may get the same feeling or even more by moving out to Suburbia. I haven't found it yet & I still miss my city. So you can say what you want about New Yorkers... I know firsthand & I remember. 

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