If you don’t mind I’d like to share with you my brief recollections from that day.
Since I didn’t have to be at work go until noon or so, I was asleep in my South Brooklyn apartment when it all happened. I don’t have a phone in my bedroom because I get calls at all hours of the day and don’t want to deal with that nonsense. Plus, my friends know they won’t wake me no matter what time they call so they feel free to call anytime. However, it was one of those friends who woke me that fateful Tuesday morning.
I couldn’t immediately make out who it was but someone was yelling into my answer machine and I got up to find out what all the fuss was about. When I picked up, my buddy Jorge, who was calling from Florida, didn’t even greet me. “Put on the TV!” Figuring this was something major I didn’t hesitate and immediately put on CNN only to be confronted by the sight of the World Trade Center up in smoke.
For the next 4 or 5 hours I was on the couch in front of the TV and getting calls from all over the world. My mom in the Dominican Republic, who like the vast majority of Dominicans was equally shocked and saddened, told me how my brother was on the roof placing both a Dominican and American flag side by side. Friends kept calling to check in on me and to commiserate. At one point I went back to my bedroom for the first time since Jorge had awakened me and absentmindedly wondered what that burning smell was. Oh.
I walked out to the corner bodega to get a bite to eat and noticed how the cars on my block were covered in a light coat of sand-colored ash. When I got to the corner and looked north on 4th Ave I saw what seemed like an army of commuters, trudging along on foot, exhausted and bewildered, but on their way home. Meanwhile, my Yemenite grocers looked dismayed and slightly unsettled; who knew what reaction would come their way? Thankfully, all was calm in the ‘hood as we started to piece together just how horrible this tragedy turned out to be.