When 9/11 happened, I was in 8th grade. It was the beginning of the school year and we had just taken our English diagnostic test. We were going up the stairs and talking about all the questions and which answers we put down, typical nerdiness after a test. We get to the 3rd floor and we see our 6th grade English teacher taking pictures out the window. Why is he taking pictures? He said something along the lines of "Don't tell anyone I told you but two planes just hit the Twin Tower." I remember looking out the window, seeing smoke, and not getting the importance of it. I shrugged it off and went to Math. We sat down in class but the teacher did not teach us anything. She had the radio on low and was running around talking to the other teachers. Pretty soon, they called us all down to the auditorium. Our principal, Mr. [insertItaliannamehere], told us what happened and that they were contacting out parents. I started freaking out. Both my parents were in Manhattan that day.
My aunt came and picked up me and my cousin. We went back to her house and watched the news. People were walking in Manhattan down the highway and across the Brooklyn Bridge. I tried calling my mom and sister but the cell phone lines weren't working because they went down with the towers. Again, minor freak out. My other cousin got home from high school fine so I was waiting for my sister. My sister came an hour or two later and I ran and hugged her. She wasn't in Manhattan but let's just say the smoke and dust clouds were strong enough that they reached the part of Brooklyn where she went to school. My mom came a little while later and we all waited for my dad. During that time, my mom told us her story. She went to work and while she was on the train that was riding on the Manhattan Bridge, she saw scraps of metal flying by her. She got to work and the one other person in the office told her to leave. By then, all the trains were down and the only option was to walk. She was one of those people that we saw on the news walking down the West Side highway and Brooklyn Bridge. She was ok, just a little shaken up, and sore.
So, my dad. Didn't hear from him for one day, two days. Then we get a call home. My dad was fine he was just shuttling doctor's back and forth from local hospitals to Ground Zero. He's a bus driver and they needed all the man and buspower they could get to shuttle people back and forth and get the necessary supplies. My dad, like my mom, was fine and shaken up. He came home the next day but wouldn't talk for a little while. I guess he was pretty traumatized and I still have never asked him what he saw on that day.
Basically, 9/11 shook my world. The Twin Towers weren't there when I looked out the window of my junior high school. On my way to swim practice, I could see a cloud of dust over that part of Manhattan as we crossed the Verrazano Bridge. On my way to swim meets, I no longer stuck my head out the window and craned my neck to see how tall the towers were. Whenever I watch Friends, I get a pang because I know the Twin Towers are no longer there. New movies focus on Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Empire State or Chrysler building when they show NYC. But one thing I realize is that nothing can replace the Twin Towers.
You know, maybe that's why New Yorkers have such New York pride. For that day, month, year, everyone was united. Everyone needed everyone. Everyone respected the police officers and the fire fighters. Everyone paid their respect for those that died in unimaginable ways. Everyone understood that 9/11 is a day that so many of us will never forget.