That afternoon, I had a couple of hours between my last class and my first solo tutoring session, and so I went wandering around the neighborhood. I ran into a couple of the girls from my class, who asked me if I'd heard what had happened. They told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and I remember thinking that it was probably just a little twin-prop plane that got off course, and while it was sad, it wasn't that big of a deal. I ducked into a nearby web cafe to find some news, and got a site that was streaming their on-air coverage live.
Which is how I saw the second plane hit.
I remember logging on to AIM to see if anyone was online, knowing that it was unlikely because of the time difference. I caught one person who was in the middle of an all-nighter, and frantically asked him if he knew anything else about what had happened. He didn't know what I was talking about - he hadn't seen anything yet.
I watched for a few more minutes, and as soon as I saw that the Pentagon had been hit, I panicked. My brother's out there, I thought. Rich could be in the middle of all of that. I didn't have a cell phone, so I ran out to a payphone and tried to get through to him, with no luck. I couldn't get through to the States for most of the day, actually - the international phone system was all screwed up for awhile.
I managed to get myself back to the school, and saw that everyone else was gathering there, too - even the people whose classes were done for the day. So many of the students were from New York, or went to school there, and none of us could get in touch with our families.
A lot of that day is a blur. I know that I walked back to the apartments with a couple of other students, and we stopped at a small shop so one of the guys could pick up an alarm clock. As soon as we walked in, the people immediately stopped talking and moved aside so we could see the TV showing the news. The people at the newsstand did the same thing, letting us look at the evening edition and seeing exactly what had happened.
...you know what? 10 years ago, I was terrified and alone, not knowing what was happening or what was going to happen. Today, I spent with my husband, cleaning the living room and preparing for a visit from a dear friend. I need to remember that I'm not alone anymore, and while I may not know what's going to happen any more than I did then, I'm not filled with the same nameless terror I was then.
Screw you, terrorists. I'm making cookies.