I thought about posting my experiences that day, as I was living in Manhattan at the time and worked in Chelsea as well, thus giving me a pretty close view of WTC collapse. Four years past, I figured I would be able to revisit it and get it all down "on paper", but I can't. Not yet. Maybe never.
I will say this, however. For those of us that lived in Manhattan in the months following 9/11/01 experienced things that those outside of the city never did. For months, we caught the smell of cordite and other burnt building materials every time the wind blew north from downtown. The air was so thick with dust and debris the night of 9/11 that one could cut the air with the back of one's hand. Posters of the missing popped up all over the city; after a few weeks of seeing them, I started to remember their names and their faces. I still remember many of them. An aid station was set up at the East 26th St. Armory. I usually took the bus to work (I lived in 39th St. and Lex and worked on 23rd and 6th) down Lexington; it passed the armory every day. The walls of the armory were pasted with posters of the missing, and the building was teeming with their relatives. For a time, I stopped taking the bus and took cabs to work, and advised the cabbie to avoid 26th and Lex. I couldn't bear to witness it anymore. A few people in my building on 39th St. thought I had gotten killed. One of the doormen in my former building had told some of my fellow tenants that "the hockey guy" hadn't come home that afternoon and in all likelihood was lost. (I used to go up and down the elevator at all hours of the day and night with sticks and hockey bag in tow on my way to and fro games of the roller and ice kind; I became known as "the hockey guy" throughout the building.) It turned out I wasn't the only "hockey guy" in the building. A fellow on the 10th floor of my building was also a practicing hockey player; I lived on the 9th floor, so that made us even easier to confuse with one another. He was also a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. And he never did come home. A young African-American doctor who lived in the building and that I was friendly with approached me about two weeks later. "I thought you were dead!" he said. I asked what had ever given him that idea. He told me that the doormen had said "the hockey guy" had gotten killed. Two or three other tenants in my building had thought the same thing and subsequently approached me to say how glad they were that I was alive. It was a strange experience to be confused with the dead.
There's considerably more to write about, but it's still a bit raw to me so I'll defer. What I can say is that I'm extraordinarily thankful to be alive, thankful that no one amongst my family or friends that lost their lives (although there were a few close ones, among them a FDNY friend of mine who nearly had WTC north tower collapse on top of him), and more than anything, that I am a citizen of the United States, and a Western man. In this civilization that we live in, despite some of the more insidious attacks of its critics, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not empty propaganda. 9/11/01 demonstrated that to me in stark relief. Life is cheap in most of the rest of the world, liberty is non-existent, and as for the happiness part, that's a luxury most will never come close to experiencing in this world. On the morning of September 11th of 2001, I was in Manhattan, in the United States of America. I witnessed America at its best when things were close to being at their worst. On one of America's worst days in its history, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world but in New York City.