When the first plane hit, I was sitting in an art classroom and my professor was late. This was at LaGuardia Community College, which is almost right across the river from Manhattan. He came in and told the students about the attack and I remember going pale. Of course, everyone was dismissed and people throughout the building were freaking out, trying to get to a phone when their cells weren't working, relatives of WTC workers bawling... I remember it pretty vividly. Students huddled around televisions, sympathy hugs and all that. I was still a smoker back then and gave out my whole pack one-by-one to whomever asked. Saved the last two for myself and decided to suck it up, go outside and take a look for myself.
I walked the crowded bridge near the school and saw the towers, both decimated, but still standing. I was just stuck in a surreal numbness. Surveying the crowd reactions. Some people were shocked. Others laughed in jaded fashion. It was crazy. Then the first tower went down and the gravity of the whole situation just crushed me. Something told me the second one was going down and I didn't want to stay and watch.
All mass transit was halted, so I lit up and decided to start my 3 1/2 hour walk home. I remember just staring at all the buildings around me, feeling like everything in the city was made of paper. It felt like it could all come down with the breeze. It was the beginning of a pretty devastating depression that lasted a few months.
Later I found out that a friend of mine had just dropped off her best friend at the Towers before they went down. She dealt with some mean survival guilt and she hasn't been the same since.
Yeah, I probably posted this before, but it's probably the historical event I tell kids about when I'm old and liver-spotty. I gained alot of perspective on the human condition that day. Serves me good to remember, no?