I was living in midtown Manhattan. Within walking distance of my work. I didn't have set hours, so on a slow day I could stroll into the office when I needed to. Consequently, I didn't always set my alarm clock.
I woke up naturally on 9/11. It was a little after 9am. I turned on the tv to NY1, which was the local news station that I always checked to get the day's weather. They were showing images of the the twin towers, which had been hit by the planes at that point. There was a suspended moment in which I didn't understand what I was seeing. Was it real. Was it now. Was it the local news.
I figured that I shouldn't go into work. Although my office wasn't in a famous high rise, I would probably be better off staying in my apartment building. Then NY1 showed footage of people fleeing the United Nations, which was very close to my building. As I sat in front of the tv, I saw the first tower fall. I decided to go into the office.
I arrived to find people fairly calm. Anyone who had a radio had it turned on and turned up. Someone said that the second tower had fallen. Mr. Octopus, who was my boyfriend at the time, was at work in Brooklyn. He was much closer to the towers than I was. We spoke on the phone. He was going to find a way back to his apartment in Queens. I called my parents. I assured them that I was in midtown, not downtown. The distinction did little to comfort them.
Later that morning, office admin sent an email to all personnel saying that everyone was free to leave if they wanted to. Most people didn't know where to go or how to get out. There were images to people walking across bridges. Many people lived in NJ or Long Island or Westchester. Too far to walk. I ended up leaving the office with a friend who lived on the Upper East Side. I didn't want to go back to my apartment alone and neither did she.
It was a quiet night. We watched the tv, even though we didn't want to. We were about three miles from the World Trade Center. We could smell burnt metal and see debris in the air. Landlines were working so we called our families and friends.