September 11th is my birthday. I turned 36 this time. For some reason I woke up before 9:00, although I’m usually up around 10, and I turned on WNYC 820a.m., as per usual. Their radio station is located near the WTC, and the host couldn’t believe what he’d just seen: a plane crashing into WTC1. confused and shocked, I phone a friend and leave a message. Back to the radio. And then the next plane. The host is freaking out. Others are telling him to evacuate. He doesn’t want to. I realize this is an attack. I go up to my roof in Brooklyn. Cannot cannot believe my eyes. Back downstairs. A friend singing Happy Birthday on my machine. I pick up. She’s calling from New Haven. I try to explain. She says, “Oh no,” but then asks how things are going. She doesn’t understand. I have to get off the phone. And then the collapse. I’m losing it. I go to a friend’s house; her daughter is 2, and I realize immediately I must stay calm in front of her, although I’ve just been crying.
Later in the afternoon, I’m walking through Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, with a towel over my face. A drunk white man in front of a bar is screaming at the Pakistani owners of a minimart across the street: “Close your fucking store. Get out of our country.” Another man holds him back. A police officer stands in front of the minimart. I go to buy something at the minimart but they have just closed.