On 9/10 I had a melanoma removed from my side. It wasn't a serious operation. It was at Northshore hospital, with anesthesia that put me out, but I walked out around noon, woozy but standing. The surgeon, a Korean woman who looked to be around 12 years old, told me to stay home the rest of the week. But at that point I was working out of an the District 14 Multimedia office at PS 84 in Williamsburg and didn't have to teach, so I went in, still a little spacey, on that beautiful Tuesday. My partner, Maria, suggested we go to breakfast at a place on Bedford Ave.
We were just finishing breakfast when the waiter came over with the check and said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I figured it was something like a small plane that lost its way. Soon after he told us a second plane had hit the building. My first reaction was that they had collided with each other first. "No. It's terrorists," said Maria. I laughed.
We walked the two blocks to the East River and watched the smoke stream out of the buildings. "My God, I think people are jumping," Maria said. I didn't believe her. I don't know how she saw that because I didn't. Of course, she was right.
We watched for a while and she suggested I go back to the office and grab a video camera. It took me some time to get it set up. On the way back to the river, people on the roofs started screaming, "It fell down." When I got there a few minutes later, there was only a puff of smoke where the building had been.
I shot about 5 minutes of video but just couldn't go on. (I still have it somewhere, but have never looked at it.) We went back to the office to watch it on TV. One of the teachers' husbands worked around there and she hadn't heard from him directly, though one of his co-workers told her (before the building came down) he was all right but had gone down to watch. Of course she was extremely upset, but had to try to hide it with a group of special ed kids in front of her.
It was clear the other one was going to come down too. I couldn't watch and went back to my office. About 1PM I was out in the hall when I saw the teacher's husband, who had walked all the way over the bridge, come down the hall. She ran out of her room and they just hugged and hugged.
I drove home that afternoon. The Belt Parkway was empty. And I mean empty. It seemed that it was closed as I saw no cars. And this was around 4pm. I was flipping the radio dial to get as much information as I could, but still spent the most time on my favorite station, WFAN, where Mike Francesa did as good a coverage as was possible for hours. I was feeling real tired and woozy from the operation and hit the sheets when I got home in a semi dreamlike state, still not sure if I had come out of my operation yet.