It’s been almost 19 years since that Tuesday morning in September 2001 and, until just recently, I had never identified as a "9/11 survivor". I carefully painted myself on the fringes of the tragedy, even though I was there.
Whenever I tell people where I live in lower Manhattan, I always get THE question, "Were you there on 9/11?" I acknowledge I was — but almost every time the question is posed, the person asking proceeds to tell me where they were and how 9/11 affected them.
That’s natural, in terms of how our memories of traumatic events work. Almost always, however, they were no place near downtown NYC on 9/11. I rarely share the details of that day, and I try to get beyond the topic as quickly as possible.
Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below.
I moved to residential Battery Park City, which sits across the West Side Highway from the World Trade Center (WTC), in November 1993, months after the first terrorist attack.
My first job was with American Express in the former World Financial Center (WFC) which was connected by a bridge to the WTC. I remember being in the copy room in 1993 when I heard a bang and felt the repercussion of that first attack. We all ran to the corner office and looked out onto the street below and saw the black smoke billowing out of the parking garage.
We didn’t know at the time what had happened as there was no internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no "always-on" immediate source of news information. We just waited to hear it on the news later at home. We weren’t evacuated and business did not cease.
Tragically, six innocent lives were lost and over a thousand were injured.
We all went to work the next day and carried on without much talk of the incident, and without any fear that anything like it would happen again. It was a random "one-off".
Fast forward to September 2001, I still lived in Battery Park City, but worked at JP Morgan Chase on Liberty Street — about one block east of the WTC.
I had just spent the weekend with friends in Spring Lake, New Jersey at their sprawling Victorian home just one block from the beach.
A friend had married an investment banker and his friends and their wives all hovered around the kitchen area asking the "single girls" if it was scary to live in NYC as single women.
I laughed it off and thought they were being really paranoid and weird. Battery Park City was in the top safest places to live in the city — with a crime rate consisting of car theft and minor infractions, no violent crime at all.