Originally Posted by dsdrane
It still amazes me that I didn't know anyone -- myself, personally -- who died in the attacks that day. I had "2nd degree of separation" knowledge of people, but even that was minimal. By the time the attacks happened, I had long since moved out of any field that would have largely used those towers as a base of operations (legal, financial, governmental). So, it should be noted that whatever pain I felt that day -- or feel from that day -- stands in stark contrast to those who lost friends and family that day.
That said, The Twins -- as a friend of mine who lived directly under them (and who lost just about everything except his life that day) called the Twin Towers -- were what I liked to call the prow of my S.S. Manhattan. It was like a compass point...the North Star. This is what I saw everyday, looking downtown on Sixth Avenue from Waverly Place (in the West Village). Many times, it helped me navigate in SoHo and TriBeCa before I became better acquainted with the streets in those neighborhoods. Riding in a cab in my first year in NYC, my cabbie called The Twins the boxes the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings came in.
At the end of the day, it was empathy that had me looking up psychiatrists in the weeks that followed. Despite flying since I was little, I was, by then, a confirmed nervous flyer. Xanax and some booze were always required. (Still are.) Imagining myself on that plane was enough to put me off from flying forever. The other, more upsetting thought, came from having worked in Tower One as a legal assistant my first year out of college for the white-shoe firm Brown & Wood. The offices spread across something like the 57-59th floors...but many of us were ensconced in some extra space leased on the 53rd floor. This meant, usually, using the fire stairs to travel up and down, rather than wait for the local elevators (as opposed to the express elevators that only took you to a couple of "sky lobbies", from where local elevators took you the rest of the way).
In short, I know the floor plans; I know the fire stairs; I know the view from those skinny windows; I know the elevator lobbies. On top of that, some sort of transformer blew in late 1989 or early 1990 (when I was there) and we were required to take the fire stairs down to evacuate the building as a precaution. All said, when I looked up at that many-storied hell-hole from Fulton Street in the side of the tower seconds after the first plane hit, every single one of those memories flooded my head and I immediately put myself up there in the middle of it.
The nightmares came later, days after I was back in my apartment (that took 8 days).
Anyway, let's just say it was a scar in my bark. It wasn't anything like some other, way more horrible scars out there, but it was a scar nonetheless. I jokingly imagine myself in the men's room when the plane plows through. How's that for an image? Truly caught with one's pants down. Then there were those who found themselves in a situation where throwing themselves off the building was preferable to staying. WOW. I cannot -- but kind of can -- imagine the thought process that results in a decision like that. It's not a place any of us ever hopes to be.
So, it hurts. Fortunately for me -- unlike so many others -- I don't have these thoughts daily, or even monthly, anymore. Time has helped. So did (for me) eventually leaving NYC. I finally left over 4 years later for a number of reasons, but I'd be lying if I said 9/11 didn't play a central part in the decision. NYC wasn't the same afterwards...for anyone; but, for me, I found the things that didn't bother me as a younger person were now intolerable. Maybe that would have happened anyway...who's to say? But I was done. I went to South Florida, and now I'm in the northern Chicago suburbs. It would be easy to say I escaped. But I didn't; I just relive the experience from elsewhere now. What I did do is make a positive change...for me. It does not, cannot, translate to anyone else.