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HAPPENINGText: Rei Inamoto

As we continue downtown, several cars that are covered with ash, some of which with broken wind shields, pass by us. Streets are barricaded by this time and the traffic is being re-routed. There are less and less people as we head downtown.

We arrive at my brother’s apartment and soon later, my friend hears from his girlfriend, which lifts his eerie feeling a little bit. What we see in front of us and on TV, though, dampens our emotion.

After a couple of hours of watching the same footage a hundred times, my girlfriend and I decide to cross Williamsburgh Bridge on foot to go home. It’s a nice day but sadly enough, this is one of the darkest days New York City has ever experienced. From the bridge, I see smoke-filled lower Manhattan against the sun. The sunshine peaks through the thick smoke of the after mass, juxtaposing the beautiful skyline of New York with the ugliness of the incident.

One of us makes a comment: “This is like a movie…” I start to think to myself: Well, it used to be that movies were mimicking reality and trying to be real. Over time, what was fake became more and more real. Without us realizing, the fake surpassed the real and became more real than reality itself. In a way, movies are starting to shape our reality. What an irony.

We arrive home safely in the early evening and exchange greetings of relief with our landlord. The landlord’s son who works on Wall Street tells the story of his escape. Another neighbor tells me that his cousin works on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center but his boss happened to have asked him to go down to the 5th floor right before the airplane collision. Fate is an interesting thing after all. The neighbor’s 11-year-old daughter says that she saw one of the airplanes crash from her classroom window. She is surprisingly calm. The 3-year-old son is telling his mom to go watch the news. He probably doesn’t understand it yet.

That day, everything was in motion yet it seemed frozen. It felt as if the moment of the attack and collapse, which was less than a minute each, was extended to a full day.

That was my day in New York City on September 11th, 2001.

Text: Rei Inamoto
Photos: Rei Inamoto

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