9 years ago today, i was sitting at my desk on the 28th floor of the hancock tower, the tallest building in boston. the trading desk was just over the 4 foot wall that i was next to. i heard one of the traders gasp and say "oh my God a plane hit the world trade center!". i went over to see what was going on and two of the three traders were standing around the television watching coverage. one of the traders mentioned that the two people that were meeting with the head trader in our conference room worked at goldman sachs in one of the towers so we went to get them to come see what was on the news. they breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that it wasn't their tower that was on fire....until about 30 seconds later when we watched the second plane hit. we all gasped and said "what the hell just happened? was that another plane?" and then it became clear that it was....we went numb....panic never actually set in but we all continued to watch the coverage. i'm out of breath just typing this - i didn't feel any panic at that particular time, but the panic i feel now when recounting what happened is unbelievable.
when we heard a report that the pentagon had been hit, it was decided, even though there had been no formal evacuation order given by building management (an hour later there would be), that we were all going to leave and we were going to leave together...our guests from goldman sachs could not get in touch with any of their colleagues. i would later find out that i knew someone that was on the first plane to hit the towers. and that the brother of a friend of mine was spared his life. but his 23 colleagues in his NYFD company were not so fortunate. my friend's brother was separated from the rest of his company when the first tower collapsed (they were already in the other building and he was outside and ran into the lobby but never caught up to them...after the first tower collapsed he made his way out and a few blocks away he caught up with another company and they watched the second tower collapse, the tower where the rest of his company was...)
we took the elevator down to the lobby and started walking down newbury street, away from downtown. we stopped in a restaurant that was setting up to open and asked if we could just watch the t.v. in the bar area. as we sat there for the next couple of hours, the crowd grew in the restaurant as buildings were evacuated all over boston. everyone was told to leave work but nobody wanted to get on public transportation to go home yet due to the uncertainty of the situation - we had only just found out that two of the planes had originated in our own city....we watched as the towers collapsed, we cried, we gasped at the unbelievability of all. we all tried to call loved ones but couldn't get calls to go out on our cell phones. i had called my parents as soon as i knew we were leaving our building to let them know we were leaving and i would head home as soon as i could and would call them when i got home. i couldn't call out from my apartment until 7 the next morning....
when i finally, around 12:30, decided that i wanted to head home, i went to the T station....they weren't taking tokens or punching ride cards and it was eerily quiet. strangers who would usually absorb themselves in their books or otherwise occupy themselves so as not to have to interact with anyone else on the T were asking other strangers if they were ok, if they knew anyone in new york. it was surreal. people who normally would not typically care about the next person were comforting one another....don't get me wrong, i love boston - i miss it tremendously - it's just that most people keep to themselves on the T.
we were obviously closed the next day, wednesday. on thursday we regrouped so we could send emails out to our clients to let them know we were ok.
our lives changed forever that day. i still have vivid memories of that day, that week, and the feelings of breathlessness come back anytime i think at length about it. my heart and prayers go out to everyone that was personally affected by that day. and i think that means all americans. and those non-americans that lost friends and loved ones that day...my heart hurts for all of us. still.