14 Years Ago

One World Trade by Ry Pepper (rypepper.com)Fourteen years ago, to the exact moment I'm writing this now, our collective lives were changing.

I was working my first off Broadway show, Shape of Things at the Promenade theater. The work call for the day had just started, and right before walking in to the theater I got a call from my dad making sure I was OK. A plane had hit a building. 

It was hard to take seriously at that point, especially all the way up on 76th street. We just assumed it was a small plane and, although tragic, not life altering. But there was definitely a lingering nervous energy in the air.

Nearly an hour later, the first building started to fall. We had the radio on. The reporter started half crying, half screaming "It's falling!" That's the moment everything changed.

That was the day I became a New Yorker. That was the day we started to think differently. That was the day I worried about my brother who was near enough to the buildings to see people jump from them. That was the day the people who lived in my apartment that I'd later move into and live in for the next 7 years decided they couldn't be in NYC anymore. That was my co-worker's birthday and, instead of celebrating, we sat in his apartment and watched the news. That was the day I stood on a rooftop on 191st street and watched lower Manhattan burn for hours.

We all became different people that day, for better or for worse. And now, 14 years later, it feels so distant and strange and surreal. So much has happened and life has moved forward, but I can almost physically feel that little part of me that changed that day. I do have to think about it, but it's there. 

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