My 9/11

September 11, 2001 started out as an average day for my kindergarten self.

I had just started school in Brooklyn the week before, and I already couldn’t stand the Catholic school uniforms—maroon and white jumpers with knee high socks and shiny black shoes.

I had my blue Teletubbies backpack and matching lunchbox, markers, crayons, and my shell collection for Show-and-Tell. I wanted to take my new baby sister, but my mom didn’t think my classroom cubby was a suitable place to keep her.

I walked the five blocks to school before class began at eight o’clock, and I looked out at Manhattan wishing that I were going to the American Girl store instead of Ms. Christina’s classroom. I eventually took my seat at my table and pulled out my alphabet flashcards.

Everything went as usual until 8:46, when the first plane hit the Twin Towers. My mom had heard the news and wanted to take me out of school, but I begged to stay with my friends.

By the time the second plane hit, hundreds of parents were running through the streets to pick-up their kids.

As my mom led my brother, sister and me home, ash fell from the sky. It burned if it got into your nose or eyes, so I just looked at the ground, held onto my sister’s stroller, and ran.

The streets were eerily calm and sirens could be heard. Despite the warm weather the white ash made it look as if it had just snowed. We left footprints in the ash on the front stairs of our house. My mom collected some of the charred pieces of paper that covered the ground.

I was frightened and scared and didn’t know what was happening until my mom turned on the news and I saw the Twin Towers engulfed in flames. I couldn’t believe that, despite having seen the towers standing that morning, they were now gone.

Life changed. For about one month, we were advised to keep our doors and windows shut and to stay inside to avoid inhaling the ash.

The police were everywhere.

I knew the police were there to protect me, but I couldn’t help but feel that they were anticipating another attack—just sitting and waiting.

Any time I go back to Brooklyn, or take a plane, or ride a train, or drive a car on a crowded highway, I can’t help but worry about another attack.

Any time I see a low-flying plane, I immediately become tense and expect the worst.

9/11 has forever changed me. I’ve gone from being a naïve and trusting child to questioning everything and everyone. I’ve learned that absolutely nothing and no one is safe.