As my friend and I were getting off the F train at 14th street a little before 9am, a woman in the station said something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I thought it was a little weird, but I figured it was a small plane, some sort of freak accident or something. When we got to the surface a man said, “Look at that!” and we went into the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street, where a group of people had gathered to stare at the buildings. There was gray smoke billowing out and people were all talking to each other trying to figure out what had happened. My friend and I started to debate jumping on a train and going down to investigate - we didn’t conceive of any danger - we never could have imagined what was really happening. As we were deciding we saw a huge fire ball - the second plane had crashed. We all knew immediately it was not an accident.
The two of us quickly decided to jump on the PATH train and go to Jersey City. We were lucky we decided so quickly and were not amongst the millions of people either trapped in Manhattan or forced to make the mass exodus over the bridges. I can’t even remember what other people around us were doing - all I could think was, “We’ve got to get out of here right now!” Looking back on it I marvel at how time moved in such a surreal fashion. We were making decisions in a matter of seconds, but it seems like we deliberated for weeks as to what to do. When we were on the PATH we saw a man sitting across from us with a look in his eyes that I’ve never seen on anyone before. He had been down there, we just knew he had been down there. We talked to him for awhile, and then got off the train and went back to my friend’s house. We turned on the T.V. The Pentagon had just been bombed. Nowhere was safe, bombs might be falling from the sky any minute.
My friend and I are both from Ohio, so we decided we should try and get on the next train back to our families. As my friend was gathering his things we heard the news-the first tower had collapsed. Then the second. What words can one have to describe the feeling at that moment? Knowing how many must have died - words become futile at that point. We were eventually able to get out of NY the next day, but no sooner were we in Ohio, that we felt we needed to be back in NY. We needed to be with our fellow New Yorkers, to mourn, to rebuild, to try and make sense of the inconceivable.
I had never been to the top of the World Trade Center until just three weeks ago. My friend visiting from Berlin really wanted to see the view, and we ended up staying up there for a couple of hours. It was spectacular. And now…well you know the rest.
‐ Joslyn Kaye, 09.17.01