I was just starting my junior year at Hofstra. I had left my dorm earlier than usual that morning because I needed something from the bookstore. The person in line ahead of me was talking to the cashier about how he just heard a "small tourist plane" had crashed into the World Trade Center. The conversation had the same light tone as if they were talking about sports or Hollywood gossip. As I walked back to my room to get ready for class, I left my mom a voicemail at work asking if she had heard about the crazy story.
By the time I got there, the news had changed drastically. The second plane had hit the south tower, and people were saying that it appeared to be an attack. I had never seen such shock, fear, and speculation coming from newscasters. They were talking about rumored attacks in cities all over the country. It was so confusing and surreal.
I met up with friends and walked to class. It seems strange now, but I don't think I knew what else to do with myself. About half of our class had gathered, and Professor Dyane Harvey-Salaam was there. She had commuted from the city that morning just before the planes hit and was visibly shaken. We heard that the university was shutting down. We didn't have to stay, but she said she would lead the modern dance class for whoever wanted to. She felt it was important to be together, doing something we loved and using it as a bit of therapy. I can't recall the specifics of the class, but it felt good.
Then I went back to my room and sat in front of the TV for hours. I got in touch with my then-boyfriend who was in school in NJ and watched the towers fall from his dorm.
And late the next night, without telling anyone who could tell me not to, I got on a train to meet my boyfriend in Manhattan. We walked out of a deserted Penn Station into a dusty, silent, unfamiliar place. There was an instant realization that the city we loved didn't (and wouldn't in the same way) exist anymore. We headed downtown hand-in-hand in silence. My memories of that night blur with the endless media images, and I really wish I had written this all out sooner. I don't remember details of where we went or what we saw that night. I don't want to.
I have gone back and forth about posting this. Watching the reading of the names, my personal story seems so insignificant. But I wrote it for myself, because it is a part of who I am. If you blogged about your memories of that day, please leave a link in the comments.