I was just sitting down in drama class. I was 15 and in 10th grade. I had recently decided that NYC was would at some point in the future be my home.
My drama teacher came in the room and turned on the TV explaining that a plane had just flown into one of the twin towers. Nobody knew what was happening. We watched.
Finally, my teacher said we should go do some theatre games like we had planned and would come back to the news later.
So we did. We missed the second plane hitting. Looking back, that was probably for the best. I’m not sure our 10th grade Southern hearts could handle seeing that live.
I don’t remember if we watched the news when we got back to class. I don’t remember if we saw the towers fall or heard about the the pentagon right away. Either way, we found out soon enough. We probably saw some of it unfolding live. But now. Now I have seen it so many times , every year, on my tv, for the past 10 years. I think what I saw live and what I’ve seen in replay so many times since has blended together.
I will never forget those first few moments. Like most, I will always know exactly where I was, what time it was (9:30am ish), and what day it was (Tuesday). I think it’s natural for some of it to blur together after those initial moments. Doesn’t that seem to be the way with really tragic and really happy events? There’s that first moment that the happiness or the tragedy hits you that you cannot forget and then everything just blurs, and blends, and and swirls around you.
The other moment that stands out to me from that day is this: My friend said, “well, do you still really want to move to NYC?” In the moment I think I said something like “We’ll see,” so she wouldn’t think I was crazy. Who could want to move to NYC in that moment?
I wanted to. Literally at that moment? No. But my desire was not taken away. NYC would still someday be my home.
Even before we knew what was happening or why it was happening, in those first moments of tragedy, there was already this feeling, this great pull to all be one. To throw everything you had, all your support behind the places and people affected. How could I abandon my NYC dreams now? New York has always been strong. I knew that long before I visited or dreamt of living here. But for that moment New York City needed all the support the rest of the country could give. So how could I turn away and go somewhere else?
As the days went on and the people of the USA proved that the word united is there for a reason, the love that I saw those rumored rough, and closed off, and sometimes rude New Yorkers have and share and give to each other was inspiring.
Of course 9/11 wasn’t just an attack on NYC, it was an attack on the USA and unfortunately, NYC, and DC, and PA suffered the deepest wounds. I don’t think that my refusal to give up on this city was anything special, but if you add it up with everyone else who felt the same way, who stuck to their decision to move to NYC, who stayed in NYC, who sent a note to a firehouse, or a prayer to Heaven, I think it made/makes a difference.
This city has my heart.
It will be a while until I feel like I earn the title “New Yorker.” There are a lot of people from my hometown who will never visit New York City. But I think for a few moments we were all New Yorkers.