<%@ Language=VBScript %> <%response.buffer = TRUE%> From Below 14th
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From Below 14th

Since my address is below 14th, and this is the area that is officially closed off, I will tell you all what this is like from my perspective. It's eerie, it's lonely, it's scary, it's smoky and there isn't much respite. My face hurts from emotional stress.

by Laura Rohrman

September.21st.2001

Last night I had dinner on my friend's roof on West 4th, and you could hear a pin drop. There were no cars and no one on the street. It's not a sight I ever expected to see here. I have felt very trapped downtown. As crazy as it's been, it's also therapeutic. We are all going through this together, and I've never felt so close to the person standing next to me, especially strangers.

As I walk from the West side to the East side (which is the only way to get around these days), I spend time with friends, stop and watch the news and just talk with people on the street. We are all walking around in a daze, and unlike the rest of the country, we are also covered in smoke. There isn't a moment of not thinking about it.

September.11th.2001

In the morning I woke up much earlier than usual because I had an important meeting five blocks from the WTC. I needed to go to my friend's in the village before going downtown. As I walked down the stairs at 9:20 am I heard a news report that two planes had done something ... then I dropped off a note for one of my actors, who happens to be my apartment manager. The other manager told me that two planes had just hit the WTC. I was stunned, but didn't know what to think of it. When I walked out to 6th and A, I could see smoke and people running to their roofs. My roof was off limits due to a dance party my roommate threw three weeks ago.

I was in a hurry, and I knew the bus was taking me to the best view of the towers in the City. Seventh an Christopher streets, in the heart of the west village is that pinnacle photo-op for the towers. At night they shine like the moon, and in essence the towers are the torch that lights our path into evening revelry. I arrived at the 7th and Christopher at 9:45, to a throng of onlookers and I already noticed lines of people in the sundry shops to buy disposable cameras, so like a lost sheep, I bought one too. While in line, I noticed a woman doubled over crying: "My dad's in there." A woman was comforting her: "He'll get out, he'll be fine." A moment later I noticed other people were standing there alone and needed comfort from strangers. We all needed comfort.

Moments later the tower collapsed like a smoldering waterfall. People threw up. We screamed. Tears. Horror. I watched from a 20-block distance, first-hand before seeing the news. I ran up to my friend's apartment, turned on the TV, saw some news and sat for about 30 seconds before calling my mom exploding in tears. I felt so alone, so isolated, so scared, and that feeling hasn't subsided much. In fact, it's gotten worse. It feels spooky here. I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. While on the phone with my mom the other tower came crumbling down.

The rest of the day was a daze. I spent some time trying to tell people that I was OK, but I didn't feel it at all. At some point I left the apartment and ended up on a bus with other dazed New Yorkers to a blood donating facility. When were told we couldn't give blood today.

I walked back home to my east village apartment. No one was home. I hadn't heard from any of my friends. Although I know that most of my friends work uptown, one of my best friends in New York is a trader. I was just hoping that she was alright. At some point my cell phone started to work again and was ringing like crazy. I talked to people from home (San Francisco). I felt like I was in a war-zone telling a friend my story from the field.

There were 36 messages on my machine, and just the tone and the sound of worry in the voices made me weep. I was touched, but hearing the love and concern made me also realize that EVERYONE is feeling crazy right now, it's not just New Yorkers. Yes it's more intense because my street is closed and I can't go to work and I am seeing missing person flyers. We are all in shock and nobody knows how to react. I went to bed with visions of the towers -- like towering infernos, shaking and tumbling down. All my friends are fine. My girlfriend Ivana, the trader, escaped from a building and then ran for her life. When we finally saw each other we held each other and wept.

Day 2

I met up with Ivana and to some extent it was more normal below 14th. Lots of people were walking around in the deserted streets, and for a moment chatter seemed to be lighter. Then Ivana told me three of her trader friends have already passed away. Ivana is from Croatia and has never felt this kind of loss. Still, she is so numb that we went on in a somewhat normal fashion. We met up with a local playwright and for another half and hour didn't discuss the events of yesterday. Toward the evening as my head grew heavy, the air became increasingly smoke-filled, and it is now difficult to breathe outside. It's a ghost town below 14th street right now. There are vigils for the slain police and fire fighters and there are missing person signs, but nothing is open and there are very few people out . The smoke is now encroaching in around us, and when you walk out there is nothing but darkness where the towers once stood.

The rest of the country is affected by this, and many of you living across the country may also have friend's or loved ones who were affected by this attack, but for me, for those who live in New York, it's just the most unimaginable horror. And yet, many of those I've spoken to love New York and are very happy to be here. There's nothing like being "where all the action is," and we feel even more love for our city now.

On the Street

I've spoken to people on the street from Israel, who told me that missing the towers is so symbolic and the loss of life is horrible, but this is their daily life on the Gaza strip, and it's hard to believe Americans have never felt war.

There is a lot of compassion in New York, and our sentiment toward the police and especially the firemen is, as you can imagine enormous. I can't believe how brave they are. Yesterday when I walked
outside you just want to hug the police and firemen. Ivana told me as she was running out of the flames, they ran in.




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