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On September 11th I was in Ecuador. I had waited to go back to Quito for a long time. The last time I was there was six years ago when my grandfather died. After his death I could not’t go back. Ecuador without my grandfather was not the same. But finally last year, in September, I decided to go back, it was time to heal the old wounds.

After two weeks of vacation, visits to my family and a beautiful trip to the Galapagos Islands, it was time to come back to NY. I was schedule to land at La Guardia Airport on September 12th at 8:00 am.

On my last day in Quito I had an appointment with my dentist. I had purposely postpone this to the end. I am generally terrified of dentists. I have told myself many times that this is a childish and unacceptable fear. But I am still terrified of them. That morning I was already sweating sweating out of nervousness when I arrived at his office at 9:00am. But as I entered I noticed that something unusual was happening. Dr. Padilla an his assistants where standing next to the radio, anxiously listening to the news. I though that the national soccer team was playing. I had only seen that dedicated attention to the radio when "The Nacional" plays in town. But this was serious. One of the assistants had her eyes full of tears. Dr. Padill asked me if I had heard the news that morning. I hadn't, I was too worried about the tooth pain that I was going to experience that morning.

He told me that an airplane had crushed into the twin towers. I could not’t believe it! My heart started pounding faster as I heard the events on the radio. They announced the crash of the second plane and the collapse of the first tower. I though that this was a nightmare. This had to be a bad dream because only in dreams big fears come together. This could not happen. Eventually I understood that it was real. NY was under attack.

Still shaking I left the dentist office and went to look for a telephone to call New York. I tried calling several times, dialing the telephone number of everyone I remembered. But I couldn't get thorough. I understood later that telephone lines where dead that day as a consequence of the buildings collapse.

I do not remember exactly what I did later, or how I ended up at the American embassy. I only remember the confused crowd. The worried faces, the generalized fear, and this hunting thoughts of everyone I know being killed.

Trying to get more information I went to the office of American Airlines. But they knew as much as I did. The office eventually filled up with Americans that wanted answers and wanted to come back home. I met Janet one more time. The New Yorker that really annoyed me at the Galapagos islands. I hated when she got too close to a baby sea lion to get a picture. The tour guide had warned the group repeatedly to stay away from the baby sea lions. He mentioned that they are harmless and very curious. They are like a big puppy really and they try to get close to people to play and to smell. But at a certain age they are also helpless and could die from starvation if their mother abandons them. The mother sea lion will abandon the puppy if she can not identify its smell. If he accidentally acquires human smell from getting to close to a tourist or from a tourist getting too close to him. After all this explanation, Janet was still taking pictures on the nose of the bay sea lion. She did not seem to understand that islands where not the central park zoo.

I hated her her shopper window shopping attitude and of course, being a New Yorker my self I told her so!. but on September 11th when I met her at the airline office I could only Hugh her. We were both from NY. This time we had something in common. The twin towers where ours and someone had bomb them.
Man signing the memorial wall at the world trade center on September 21st
That night I went back to my sister’s place and stayed listening to the news. Watching CNN, and the twin towers collapse before my eyes over and over again. I also kept dialing the numbers of everyone I could think off but it was in vain. I could not’t get through.
Exhausted, I stopped for a few minutes and the phone rang. It was my boyfriend. He was calling to let me know that he was fine. I felt and immense relieve and asked him to contact my friends for me. The next day I went to the American Airlines office just to find out that the situation had not changed. The airports in the US where still closed and all flights where canceled. No one new when the situation was going to change. The office was full of people, of questions, uncertainty and anxiety.

Four days later the airports in the United States reopen and I was able to come back. In the airplane the emotions where mixed. Some people wanted to get home fast to see their loved ones. Janet had not heard from her nephew that used to work at the WTC. a couple of people where afraid. The hijacked airplanes where from American Airlines. However, the trip was uneventful. The Miami airport the lines of people where extremely long but people cooperated with the new security measures and waited patiently.

When I arrived in New York I couldn't help myself and I started crying. In all those days of confusion I had not think about all the people that I met at the world trade center and that I would not see any more. The next few days their names hunted me. Charlie, the Manager at my first restaurant job job 10 years ago. Mark, the actor that had being waiting tables for the last five years. Mary the Mexican woman that crossed the border illegally. Susan the jeweler designer that cheated on her husband. Adam, the waiter with the brightest smile that I had seen. Jonathan and his bad jokes, Mario and his dirty looks. John, the crazy fire man that I dated once. I had stopped seen all these people many years ago. When I left that job Idid not like many of them. But that did not matter now.

The World Trade Center is part of my personal story. The twin towers where part of my land landscape and they live in my memory. None of my ex co-workers where hurt that day. They all managed to come out of the second tower on time. But all the faces that I remember without a name were buried under dust of all this hatred. They were as innocent as I am. Before September 11th I never though about them. Now they live constantly in my memory. I had created a memorial site in my heart for them and in the wall I had sign all of their names. I will always remember that they were killed on September 11th.