Saturday, September 10, 2016

9/11: A red Yugo, police tape, and the Hudson River

Monday, September 10, 2001 was rainy in Manhattan as I walked my way across town to catch the A train home. I had considered going upstate to meet my partner, Fred, who was training in Albany, but I decided it would be too much travel to get back the next day.

Tuesday, September 11 turned out quite the opposite, clear blue skies, bright sunshine: later known by New Yorkers as 9/11 weather.

As I retraced my route across town from 8th Ave. to my office on 5th Ave. I noticed a buzzing among people, but as I  was late, per usual, I walked briskly. At 6th Ave. I heard someone say a plane had crashed into the Empire State Building, which seemed like something an uninformed tourist would say. 

By Fifth Ave., and my office at the Dana Foundation, there it was. 

I joined a crowd looking straight down at the darkest, ugliest smoke cloud I'd ever seen. In pre-smart-phone days. there was no confirmed information. I stared a bit and moved into my office.

The TV in the office confirmed the  source of the smoke as the World Trade Towers. One woman, a friend of a friend, came in crying hysterically. We were told to get to our offices, but on a suggestive way.

I tried to work, the image from the TV numbing me. Lunch would be served, it was announced awkwardly by management, a gesture that said "We don't know what to say or do." Emails started arriving from friends and family I hadn't spoken to for months or years.

We were told to go home, as soon as we finished our catered lunch. Better yet, finish eating soon and leave. I dashed across 56th St. to the A train stop, to be frightened by the sight of ominous police tape around the stairway. I rather boldly, for me ducked under it and caught what I heard over the pa system "the last train uptown." Denial took over and I took a nap, glad to have some free time off. It might have been my last non-anxious moment in Manhattan.

hudson-river-bacteria.jpg (1280×720)

The Hudson River never looked the same once I learned the next day that one of the planes had flown  just a few hundred feet from the apartment window down on its hideous journey.

A few years later, Al Gore visited the city (not sure if he was running for president, again). Some residents and neighbors firmly said (in great denial) that the city had recovered; everything was fine. Gore said no. He saw the fear and anxiety in peoples' eyes. He was quite right.

Learn more about stress, trauma and anxiety here:

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