September 11, 2011

9/11 on 9/11

Today is 9//11. I try to stay away from writing about topics that are globally tragic. I much prefer writing about topics that are personally tragic. However, I was born and raised in NYC, and given that this is the ten year anniversary, I have decided to talk about my experience.  

September 11, 2001

It was my second year of graduate school. I was living at home with my parents and my sister in Queens. I  had a habit of leaving the television on mute while I slept. I was having bad dreams and the television helped. When I woke up a movie was playing. There was an explosion, I didn’t pay much attention. I grabbed my cell phone and called a friend. He picked up and said he was fine. 

“Fine?” I asked. 

“Aren’t you calling to see if I’m ok?” Silence. “Haven’t you seen the news?” More silence. “Someone flew a plane into the Twin Towers.” 

I turned towards the television. I don’t remember thinking anything. I just remember the moment when I realized that I was watching the news not a movie. A minute or two passed and the second tower fell.  I hung up. I frantically dialed numbers; my mother, my sister, my father, my friends, anyone I knew who would be in the city. All safe. Thank God.

I watched the news for two or three hours. I turned it off. It was too much. I was just there a few days ago. I don’t remember who called who, but I was on the phone with my friend, Maye.  We decided that we both needed to get out of the house.

Maye and I met freshman year of college. We were introduced through a mutual friend. She was shy, but I won her over and we became good friends. She was born in China, but is defiantly a New Yorker. I still consider her one of my dearest friends. 

We decided to go to the movies, get our minds off of everything. When we tried to buy tickets, we received a verbal lashing from the guy in the ticket booth. How could we go to a movie at a time like this? He told us that his muslim friends had been beaten up and was in the hospital. 

Maye and I looked at each other. I told him that I felt bad for his friend but we couldn’t sit and watch the news all day, it was too upsetting. Besides, the trains weren’t running, we couldn’t even go to help.  

At this point the manager showed up and gave the guy a stern look. Then we got our tickets. I don’t remember what we watched. 

When I got back home, I found a scrap of paper in my pocket with a name and number, Will. Will worked in one of the towers. I met him at The World Trade Center a few days prior. We were supposed to go on a date. I called his number. Voicemail. I left a message.

The following days were quiet. Will called me back. He was on the ground floor getting a cup of coffee when the plane hit. He said that he ran into the subway, and followed a crowd into one of the cars. He said that the dust was so thick he could hardly see, let alone breath. 

A week later we went out on our date. He spoke about his experience on 9/11. He said that every time he heard a loud noise his heart pounded in his chest. I was sympathetic to his trauma, but the tone in his voice made me think he was trying to get into my pants.  My thoughts were confirmed. While driving me home he stopped the car, and pulled out his erect penis. 

I just looked at him. I contemplated smacking him, but as I said, I was sympathetic. Being a survivor can make you do things that you normally wouldn’t. I got out of the car. I could hear him as I shut the door. “Come on, just touch it. We would be so good together.” I walk home. It was only a few blocks. 

We went out twice after that, but I couldn’t forgive his penis display. That was that. 

The following months were tough. I was saddened about the lives lost. At the same time, I’d never seen so many people come together to help one another.  No riots, or looting, us New Yorkers were sticking together. That’s why we’re awesome. 

I’m trying to think of something uplifting to end with. Something that makes you think of puppies and rainbows, but I’m just not that kind of person. Besides, puppies and rainbows seem a little inappropriate, even for me.  

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