A personal remembrance of 9/11
Lexie Robinson was on her way to work in Hoboken that morning. Here she recalls the day the world changed, with photos by Pablo Ravazzani.
I don’t know why I was listening to Z-100 that morning, usually Hot 97 blared out of my speakers on my commute to Hoboken. J Lo was probably singing “I’m Real” for the seventh time that morning so I switched stations to listen to the mindless banter between Elvis Duran and the others. I don’t remember their names, it wasn’t my station. Elvis Duran sounded concerned, I am pretty sure he said a commuter plane had flown into the World Trade Center, it was 8:46am. I usually got to work around 9:30 — 10. By 9:03 the world had stopped spinning. Apparently, we were under attack. It’s funny how back then America felt like “we”. I made it over the George Washington Bridge and down River Road in a haze of sirens and uncertainty while chain smoking, Newports. That was the last time my commute over the bridge would be uninterrupted.
I parked; I don’t remember where. We were waiting for the PATH train to pull in, we were waiting for Liz and Paula the rest of us were accounted for. Lexie, Scotty, Jimmy, Mel and Joe. Three Ticket Brokers, two runners and no assistants. Paula and Liz were on the PATH. After they arrived everything fell apart.
I stood looking across the Hudson River. A well-dressed white man slammed his fist into a plate glass window on Hudson Street while screaming that his wife “worked in that building”. The crowd kept growing. Why do people want to have images of death tattooed on their souls? Why did the crowd keep growing as the screams got louder? I could sense the carnage that was to come. I've always been able too. I close my eyes at the scary parts. I turned around and the tower fell, I felt it. I didn't look, I didn’t turn around, I just kept walking back to our two story office building at 89 Hudson Street. It was barely 10:30 and I was seeking comfort and familiarity as the world was ending.
Nextels were the only phones that worked during the pandemonium and I kept chirping Jay. He was an obsession, not a boyfriend. I tried to take him as a hostage, but heroin addicts are tricky and he always out manoeuvred me. He had been sleeping at my place a few nights a week and there was something there, barely. Chirp “Jay”, chirp “Jay”. He was working construction at the towers; I knew he was there. Time passes at a rate that you cannot measure when the world is ending. “LEX, there’s fucking bodies falling on me” is what came over the two-way. So far, my personal body count at what would become ground zero was also zero. That number would increase as the week went on. Jay may have been better off being one of those numbers.
Everything that transpired before noon that day is all over the place. The only fact that I am certain of is the New York City Skyline was vacant, the rest is blurry. Every few minutes another tunnel was shut, they have these huge doors on them, I think they're made of brass. The PATH and Subways were halted. The bridges were closed, and the Tri-state area was systematically being immobilised. I had a car full of people from surrounding boroughs who were stuck. They piled into my car willingly and numb. As we pulled up to GWB the cop said it was closed. Closed, he gave no alternative, no kind gesture. My daughter was in elementary school and I had to get to her. Again, it’s all pretty foggy. Coworkers who cannot get to the Bronx or Brooklyn are in tow, everyone is frantic and no one is sure if we are going to be alive by 3pm. I followed someone, it's what started happening that day, the camaraderie came out of nowhere and all of a sudden, we were on the Tappan Zee Bridge on our way to the Boogie Down. Liz got out, Jay had walked all the way uptown and then made it to Dykman. He was covered in death, I wonder if he still is? He disappeared shortly after the fires were put out. Syringes were the only place he was able to find comfort. I looked for him. I was so drawn to his emptiness it was like an anxious longing. I wanted to save him. Instead, I ended up with Brendan. He was my parting gift from 9/11 and I hadn't even met him yet.
Text Lexie Robinson
Photography Pablo Ravazzani