Sucks is the word for today.
This piece by me ran on the now-defunct Regeneration Quarterly website right in the aftermath.
The rest of it goes like this:
We scrambled to find hotel rooms to stay the night. At 11 am, we had fifteen rooms. By 3 pm, we had none, because Jersey City hotel owners sold and resold hotel rooms for twice their value. We bought blankets and pillows, and supplies for a makeshift barbecue grill. At 7 pm, we were eating hot dogs and hamburgers and drinking beer. We watched the sun set and the smoke billow.
All day we tried to make plans to leave. The turnpike was closed, the tunnels were closed, the bridges were closed. We were poring over maps, talking about bridges between boroughs that had never meant anything to us before. A rumor went out that a commuter train had opened, and we decided to take our chances. At 9 pm we left our office, packing up everything we could. We drove into downtown Jersey City, ditched the car, and walked 20 minutes to find the train. We boarded, and all of a sudden it was like normal again. The train rolled into the city, and then we got on the subway. It seemed like nothing had happened until I emerged from underground. I went to the corner to see for myself: the nothing and the smoke. My eyes were wide as saucers and I fell into my roommate’s arms. I wondered if I was a refugee.
I couldn’t leave my neighborhood for days.
Our block association set up a memorial on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Houston Street. We had a candle lighting on Friday night. I looked around and saw Dave, who owns The Grey Dog. I saw the kitchen guys from Marinelli’s who always ogle us as they hose down the street. I saw neighbors I knew and neighbors I didn’t. The woman who runs my laundromat. My roommate.
Now my cousin is trying to get home. We think she’s going to take the train all the way to Seattle, with a friend who’s stranded in North Carolina. She wants to go home so badly and I know how she feels. And I know someone who went to work on Tuesday morning and won’t ever come home. I’m sorry, Mommy, I love you and Dad and Clint and I’m staying here right now. I’m staying home.
Dedicated to Aaron Horowitz, Cantor Fitzgerald, 104th Floor.