Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where I Was...9.11.01

(I posted this on my personal blog but thought it should be viewed by all).
Its no surprise to most of you I am a born and raised (insert OBNOXIOUSLY PROUD) New Yorker.
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Brooklyn and I've lived in every borough for atleast a few months, and worked in the city (Manhattan folks), for all of my working years.
What some don't understand is NY is not just a city or state.
Its not just where you're born, live, or are from.
Its who you are.
It breeds soldiers.
It creates stars.
It changes opinions.
It creates diversity.
It educates on ignorance.
It allows all sorts of people to be who they are, find out who they can be, and accepts them.
I will never love another city, state (or my borough) like I do my home of NY.
When I walk the streets of my beautiful city I feel empowered, honored and part of something bigger than me.
I feel safe. Funny huh? So many people watch movies and hear music and are scared shitless to walk the streets of Harlem or Bed Sty, while I never feel more at ease.
Until 10 years ago.
I had just got let go of a temp job the day before, and I was off to another office.
This one was on Spring street, while my last job was only a train stop from World Trade Center.
I was leaving the office, ready to go home, smoke some good stuff (hey, I was 18 and on my own), have a beer and watch FRIENDS.
I didn't have to work a full day, just come in to grab some paperwork, or something like that.
I was in a very abusive relationship at the time with a real piece of shit. I was sitting on the train pondering why I was with him, should I leave? What about my apartment?
When the smell of smoke bumrushed the subway car.
Holy fucking shit. I stayed calm. (I thought it was just a fire on the tracks, that shit happens all the time). But then we stopped.
The conductor announced this will be our last stop, we have an emergency and smoke is filling the subway tunnels. All trains are out of service.
WTF?! That never happens!
People starting rushing, pushing and panicing. I walked slowly making sure the pregnant lady next to me got up the stairs ok.
To this day I can't remember what train stop I was at. But I'm pretty sure it was 125th in Harlem.
I made it out of downtown by the grace of GOD. Had I left a little later I would've been stuck downtown.
I walked out of the subway and saw more smoke in the air then I had ever seen. MIND YOU I'M ON 125TH ST!! That not that close to WTC.
All of a sudden I notice cops, fireman, and other EMS employess loading on to public buses. Wtf??
They were filling them. They were in stealth mode.
This was NOT good.
Finally a cop told me the unthinkable.
TWO planes hit the WTC.
I almost collapsed.
My mom. Omg. My mom (and baby brother), told me they would be at Century 21 shopping this morning. That was right across the street from WTC!!
I tried her cell maybe 100 times and couldn't get through. My heart hurt, my stomach was in knots, I thought I had lost my whole family. What would I do??
Little did I know in Brooklyn, the man that I would meet a few weeks later, fall in love with, marry and have children with, overslept, and missed his meeting which was on the TOP floor of WTC Tower 1. His meeting was supposed to be at 9am in Windows of the World, had he woke on time.....
I wouldn't have my husband today or my boys.
But that day I didn't know any of this.
Finally I got through to my mom, she was at home. She never made it to go shopping.
Thank you GOD.
The next few hours entailed me walking almost 50 blocks to a bus that would get us into the Bronx, from there we had to hitch rides with strangers to get us home, and then walk where they left us.
I was scared.
I felt betrayed.
Unsure of what was really happening.
When I got home and saw on the news what had happened, I cried. I didn't speak I just cried.
I had worked those buildings.
I had had my 17th birthday party at Windows of the World.
I had met my friends for coffee many times right across the street.
I had seen those beautiful buildings everyday. My whole life. They were (are) part of NY, that everyone knew.
They were glorious.
They were tall, strong and solid like our city.
And now some evil people had taken them out, and all the innocent lives in them and around them.
I saw people jumping out of windows. Not on youtube. On TV live, as it was happening.
People I could have known, or loved ones of people I knew.
I was scared to sleep. Scared to walk anywhere. Scared to be.
But we did.
We gathered supplies, we volunteered, we helped those in need.
We watched to see if we could identify those missing.
I brought dinner to firemen, I helped organize volunteers to go to Ground Zero.
I did what I could.
I knew that even though our city was in turmoil it would NOT destroy us.
We are fucking New Yorkers baby.
We are strength.
We would support one another, hold each other down, and make sure we took care of one another.
And we did.
It took this awful, devasting, heartbreaking tragedy to make me realize I couldn't continue my life as it was. The man I was with would eventually kill me either physically or emotionally.
I knew I did not want to be with him while this was happening, which mean I should never have been there to begin with.
A week later I packed my bags.
I never looked back.
10 years has passed and I still shed a tear when I see the WTC.
When I think of that day and how it changed our city, and so many innocent lives.
But still we stand stronger than ever.
Towers are gone. Family, friends, and others lost.
But never forgotten.
They shall live on in our memories, our hearts and our prayers.
And if you ever wondered about courage and honor?
You must never have been to my home.
We are not invincible but we are fucking mighty.
We are the streets as my sister said, and NO ONE could take our city from us.


Penny said...

Oh honey, I am so very glad that God was watching over you that day, so that it brought you here, to this day. Thank you for telling me your story. it was heartbreaking to watch NYC from Philly, next to tall buildings like NY. We lost so many friends and good people that day. I can remember the sky was so very blue that morning, do you remember that? It still strikes me how clear it was that day. I am glad you made it out alive honey.

Reyna said...

My heart is in my throat Lex. So grateful that you and yours made it out alive...and I am not surprised that you were out there helping and supporting. It is what you do. You do it well. I had just had Bridget about a month prior and I was breast feeding her while watching the Today was a horrible feeling thinking of the world I had brought her into that day...since then, I see the good, I feel the good, I know the good...I experience so much good via you and the DOC. Love you. xo. MUAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Kimberly said...

LOVED reading this Lex! Although I am not a New Yorker, I feel this way about being an American! And I happen to fucking LOVE New York! Great post!!!!!!

Heidi / D-Tales said...

I read this post about 5 minutes ago. I've been sitting here frozen. You wrote an incredibly moving post here.

I may be from upstate, but I spent a lot of time in the city. My favorite place on earth! I heart NY! I heart you, too!

Princess LadyBug said...

Wow. Just wow. You guys hug each other from me today. So many "what if's" in there that would have changed so many lives forever.

Love you guys!!!

Meagan said...

I feel at a loss for words, this post was so incredibly moving. What a devastating loss our country had that awful day. I'll never, ever forget. I visited New York a few years after 9-11 and yes, I fell crazy, head over heels in love with it.

I'm glad you changed your life, married a good man and had your beautiful children. Love and hugs to you.

Tracy1918 said...

Wow Lexi. Amazing post. So glad you made it out okay. And you're hubby to be sleeping in. God is watching out for you!! Don't forget that.

Wendy said...

Beautiful, my friend.

I've only been to NY once...on a field trip in the 10th grade. I loved every minute.

When you live in the areas affected, it seems like everyone around you is impacted. I felt that same sense of unity you describe with the DC community, because I lived and worked in that area...and I was there, diving in to help, when it happened. I drove by the Pentagon almost daily and watched as it was rebuilt.

It wasn't until after living in AZ for a few years that realized how profoundly 9/11 affected the rest of our country.

My neighbors mourned and cried just like I did. They were left hurt, saddened, and confused too. Most of them were nowhere near any of the crash sites, but their hearts were equally broken.

Yes, this is a great country.

God bless America.

Denise aka 'Mom of Bean' said...

Oh, Lex! What amazing miracles for you, your family, and family to come on that day, a midst all the tragedy of that day.

shannon said...

thanks so much for sharing this.

Stephanie said...

Wow, Lex. Thank you so much for sharing this! It is amazing to hear stories from those of you who were the thick of it...lives affected by it. ((hugs)) to you and your family.

Melissa Dark said...

I remember this happening at 11pm Australian time... sitting stone frozen staring at the tv, wishing it wasn't real.
It breaks my heart..

Isn't it amazing that something so awful, can make all the New Yorkers rally together and help each other out.
God Bless you Americans and God Bless New York!

Karen said...

This is hauntingly beautiful and I thank you for sharing it with us.

Celebrate With Us!