Earlier today I posted this as a blog but Vulpes thought that since many others may have a story to tell, it's better suited as a real discussion thread. September 11, 2001; a huge turning point in the lives of my generation and an unquestionably tragic day for the United States. Do you remember what you were doing that day? Do you remember anything about the times during or just after the events that may have just been brushed aside because of the international focus on the US Government and its' next move? Here's my story. Earlier that summer when I was still 17, I had gone on a bit of a cross-country trip: First, to Upper Peninsula Michigan (Iron Mountain); then, to New York City and a couple days in upstate (Brewster area) New York. I had gone to NYC kind of by accident, I had lost my wallet while in Michigan (which contained my money and my long distance phone card). My friend Rudy who was finishing up law school was the only person I could reach in my address book by collect call. So he helped me out and I eventually paid him back but I had to go to his place before I could contact my mother and go home. This all happened in June and July. I remember celebrating the fourth of July in Brewster with a friend whom I'd originally met over the internet. I remember us staying indoors because it rained pretty hard up there. I remember seeing the WTC on my economy flight home to San Fransisco. I took off from the LaGuardia Airport and by the time we passed near lower Manhattan we were at a high enough altitude that the effect of looking at the twin towers was like looking at a Lego set. September 11, 2001... I had just turned 18 years old on the third of September, and I was home in California at my mother's house. Being young and having no responsibility, I had been up all night before doing who-knows-what on the internet and probably playing Phantasy Star Online v.2 on my Dreamcast until every last one of my e-friends logged off. I had DSL there, so I had a dedicated connection, something very much taken for granted nowadays. The sun had come up, but it was still fairly early in California. I was getting ready to eat dinner and go to bed. I went to my room and threw on the TV, planning to play Final Fantasy 7 until I fell asleep. I went to the kitchen and made myself a salad. When I got back to my room the local news was replaced by Good Morning America, a special live report*. The first plane had struck one of the WTC towers (no direct footage of the first impact was being aired as it hadn't been provided to news agencies yet). I was shocked. I was pretty scared. No one was even certain it was a plane at that time. I didn't happen to have any friends who were likely to be in lower Manhattan, but I woke up my mom. She told me to wait on calling Rudy until later because he might need to contact his own friends or family. I realized that my father, a microelectronics engineer that is also such a luddite he doesn't own a television (still doesn't!) -- probably had no idea what was going on. My mother had to either get ready for work or was gone by this time, so I called my father up on the phone and told him about the plane or missile hitting the tower. While I was on the phone with my father, the second tower was impacted, and any and all doubt that this was a terrorist attack became certainty. My father told me not to panic, as, I knew Rudy lived in central Manhattan and rarely, (if ever,) had to go to the financial district. His ties were to the Bronx which were even further away. I think my father was panicking about what the Dubya was going to do after the day was over. I'd never heard of Al Qaeda before this, my father had just enough knowledge from his habit of listening to NPR and actually reading newspapers that someone was going to get blamed and all bets were on Osama bin Laden. Eventually I got off the phone with him and I can't remember if this was before, or during reports that the Pentagon and anything else were hit (flight 93 in Shanksville, PA). I went back to my computer, hoping to see Rudy and anyone else of my friends in the New York area if they were available. One of my friends was there. He was a guy about my age that I met over the internet originally as well, but he lived in Brooklyn so he had met me in NYC and we went to Central Park together and got ice creams and stuff. I can't remember his name for sure but I think it started with a "B" so I'll call him Brad. Brad was on AIM because he was trying not to panic and talk to anyone he could, either to distract him from the news reports or at least give him some comfort. I asked him if he was okay and he told me that his little brother went to school in lower Manhattan and was unreachable because all of the cell towers were jammed. The towers had not yet collapsed when I was talking to him so Brad was just worried about how much chaos his brother was being exposed to or if there was any danger on the transportation routes. He was also unable to reach his father who worked outside of lower Manhattan but had to pass through there on his commute. I encouraged him to stay strong, and not to think the worst until all is said and done, but I really didn't know what to say. It was hard to comprehend discussing the things we had in common that helped build our friendship (we liked the same music and we liked each other but never went further than the date I had with him when I went there). Eventually he decided to get off the computer and drown himself in some music with his headphones and keep his cell at his side in case his family were to contact him, so I went back to my futon and watched the coverage, willing myself not to be so selfish as to call Rudy when he may need to contact other members of his family and keep his phone clear (he didn't have a cellphone at the time, and I don't know if he had call waiting). After the towers collapsed that afternoon, I couldn't stand it anymore. I called him. He was okay. He was new to whatever job he'd gotten after finishing law school and passing the bar, and he told me that they just sent him home when he arrived, because no one would be working that day. He didn't really have much else to say so I let him go, at least satisfied that no harm had come to him or anyone in his immediate family. I didn't turn off the TV for a couple days but I turned off the one in my bedroom to get some rest. I did speak to Brad the next day and his family was all okay. But his father had lost some of his colleagues and his brother had classmates who lost their parents as far as it was known at the time, so the mood was very downtrodden. I wound up moving to Manhattan early the next year. That is a whole different story. * Good Morning America is ordinarily broadcast on a delayed feed to Mountain and Pacific time zones and live to East and Central only.