It was the beginning of my sophomore year. Shopping period was still taking place. One of my roommates woke me just after a plane hit the first tower. She was shaking my shoulder.
“Do either of your parents work in the World Trade Center?” she asked.
“No, but my mom used to,” I replied. “Why?”
I got up and walked to the TV, just in time to see a plane hit the second tower. The images on the screen seemed fake. I sat silently in our Saybrook common room with many of my roommates. No one knew what to do, but we also couldn’t drag ourselves from the TV. At first, we were unsure if classes were canceled. But it soon became clear that they would continue.
After watching the horror of 9/11 unfold on TV for an hour, I walked out onto Elm Street. Some students were in a state of disbelief. Others, like myself, were panicking: we had family in the New York area. It felt odd going to class – not able to focus on the professors – but instead running up to others, asking if they had heard what happened, asking if their loved ones were safe. While shopping a class in LC, I broke the news to a friend from Manhattan who hadn’t been at a TV all morning. She immediately ran out to try to reach her parents.
That evening, I went to dinner for a friend’s 19th birthday. We didn’t want the horror of the day to be her only memory.
After dinner, we walked over to Cross Campus. While I don’t remember what was said at the vigil, I distinctly remember the vision of thousands of students with arms around each other, holding candles on that crisp and clear evening. I wasn’t with my family on that day. But I found comfort with friends and fellow Yalies that night.