I was living at 88 Greenwich, near Rector St., 2 blocks from WTC. I was headed uptown to a meeting at an office in midtown on the 4/5 that I took at the Wall St. stop. I remember feeling a slight thump and vibration (now I know that's when the first plane hit). The train took forever to get there. Someone on the platform said a small plane had hit a building.
The train arrived. The doors closed but it took a while to leave the station and, when it did, it was moving very slowly. The train stopped only a short distance after leaving the station and the conductor announced that, due to a malfunction, we had to get out on the tracks and follow the conductors - we were worried about the electrified rail, but we were told it was switched off. We ended up coming up at the City Hall station and by then the air was smoking and it smelled like burning.
I started walking back towards my apartment and saw the WTC towers with gaping holes and people were walking towards me with blank stares. I was in a state of disbelief. I really didn't compute what was going on, until one of the towers started to come down and the sound - a whoosh that I can't forget - and dust and people running away, so I started running away as well. It must have been at least 1 hour or so from the time I came up at City Hall to when the first tower came down. It felt like an eternity and normally walking from City Hall to my apartment would not take that long, but emergency crews and people and onlookers made it difficult.
I ended up staying with a colleague at her Brooklyn apartment for 3 months, before I could return to my apartment by NYPD and NYFD orders. I and other renters ended up going on a rent strike because we believed the EPA had not checked the air in our apartments. There was muck around the frames of my windows (which faced toward WTC) and dust in the apartment.
In the years since then, I developed a couple of episodes of pneumonia and eventually asthma. I can't say that they are related - but I cannot dismiss that possibility either. Other people who lived in my apartment complex have also developed strange ailments.
I hated the fact that 9/11 was politicized. I found it ironic that 364 days out of the year people hate New York and New Yorkers for their 'evil liberal' ways, but then on 9/11 everyone suddenly loves us.
I also hated how 9/11 was made by some into a religious crusade. I am an agnostic and I didn't pray once, nor did I invoke a deity as I was running away. What I did do, though, was to volunteer to put up signs for missing people among other things.
I liked how everyone came together - despite class, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation. Jews and Muslims and Christians and atheists and Buddhists were united as one. It saddens me that this is no longer the case.
I don't remember the day fondly, nor do I go to remembrances or watch TV events about it. To me, it was personal enough.
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