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on my cell phone - my parents, my friends, my office - but there was no service at all.
About half an hour later the cloud had dissipated, and I was about to check out the view again when I saw the second tower collapse on TV, so I decided to get away before the second ash cloud hit. As I walked home, I saw hundreds of people packed into bars, just watching the news.
I made it home and called my mother, told her I was okay. Then I sat in front of the TV for the next 12 hours.

Since then, New York has been different. The skyline is different, obviously - but it's hard to even remember exactly where the towers were, because you never had to think about it before - they dominated the skyline so dramatically. I don't know how I'm going to navigate in Manhattan now; I could always count on the World Trade Center to show me South.
Fortunately, no one I know is hurt or missing, but I know some people who've had to move away from their homes.
There's a different feeling in the air now. New Yorkers have really come together. People talk on the subway now, and my friends who drive report that other commuters have actually been allowing them to merge.
At Union Square the other night, there were about two thousand people gathered to mourn -- they were lighting candles, putting up a wall of photos of the missing, singing "God Bless America" and "This Land is My Land, this Land is Your Land."  Every time a fire trunk went by, everyone would cheer and applaud.
But there's also a creepy undercurrent - I noticed last week that every vaguely Middle-Eastern looking person I saw was either wearing or carrying an American flag, like they have to prove they're patriotic, and some of the people in Union Square have started jingoistic rants about wiping out whole countries.
The crater has mostly stopped smoking, but occasionally, when the wind blows right, you still get that awful stink of ash.
I've been working almost non-stop since the plane crash, getting out the newspaper. We had a huge issue, and without our Internet connection. It was tough.
I don't know what's going to happen next. I don't know if they plan to rebuild, or how long this feeling of community will last, or when it's really going to hit me what happened. I've been so busy I haven't really had a chance to think. I don't know what I'm going to do next. Sometimes what I do just seems so utterly stupid - next week I'm supposed to interview Scott Thompson, which normally would thrill me, but now asking questions about a comedy show seems pointless.
I don't know.
I miss my friends.

-bill

Sept. 17, 2001

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