Running through the pain

I dropped my daughter off at PS 321 and I was going to catch the R train to take my dance class.

I was walking on Seventh Avenue with a friend. Suddenly we heard a crash and I said, “Wow that sounded like a truck crashing into a wall somewhere in Bay Ridge.” I proceeded to my bank on President Street. I remember a nice man who sold fruit on Seventh Avenue. He told me in a very casual way that “some small plane had crashed into the World Trade Center antenna.” He told me that there was no train service.

I remember at the time being annoyed that the trains were not running. “That stinks,” I said. “Now I won’t be able to take my dance class.” Then I went into the bank to cash a check, and I noticed that there was panic inside the bank.

A woman who worked at the bank said, “Oh my god! My son works down by the Battery Tunnel!” But I still didn’t think that there was anything wrong. When I left the bank there were at least 20 people standing on the corner talking about a second plane that had just flown into the towers.

That’s when I realized that something very bad was happening. I used a pay phone to call my husband. I told him what I had just learned. In fact, I could see smoke on the horizon and hear the sound of fire engines. Then I went to my friend Steve’s house and watch it all on TV. We sat in silence, stunned for the next three hours. I remember the room actually shaking as the second tower came down. It was like watching a movie.

I wondered if I should pick up my daughter at school, but I couldn’t think clearly at that moment. I went home and put on my running clothes and began running through Prospect Park. Running from what, I did not know. Maybe I was running from everything I had seen. I remember seeing people walking in the park with masks on their faces. It all seemed unreal. At 3 pm, I went to pick up my daughter. There were only two children left in her class. I felt terrible leaving her so long by herself at school, but I realized I needed the time to make sense of all that had happened before I could see her.

I knew that she was safe and when I got there to pick her up she still wanted to play. So I let her play and try to make things seem as normal as I could. But really, it could never be. In fact, life has never been the same for me.