The alarm woke me up at 6:57 this morning. It was a normal beginning, my second week of college, getting into the swing of things. Eight o'clock class every morning M
, seventeen hours of school per week. I thought I had a lot to worry about. I was wrong.
Lounging outside the auditorium, waiting the endless forty minutes between Japanese and Intro to Buddhism. My eyes are heavy, almost closed, mind wandering and body occasionally twitching. Somehow I managed to see a shape pass in front of me. I opened my right eye slightly, curious. There was a guy sitting on the bench across from me. He smiled. I opened my eyes the rest of the way and smiled back sleepily, going so far as to sit up from the fetal postition I had taken on the bench. He said he had seen me in the lecture last week. There are 550 seats in the lecture. Why did he notice me? Who knows. And how did he manage to find me, half asleep and rolled into a ball on a bench in the corner behind a pillar of concrete, crumpled napkins on the floor from the bagel I had stolen from the cafeteria for a mid morning snack, no makeup on, and wearing a shapeles hoodie but shivering nonetheless? No clue.
He asked if I would like to go get some coffee before class started. I said sure, the bagel heavy in my stomach, and thankful for the two dollars I had slipped into my pocket this morning.
As we were walking down State street, we saw a man sitting outside Starbucks with a radio, brodcasting for everyone the news. Dave, my new friend, nearly broke down in tears. He's from D.C.. His mom is a reporter there. She could have been in the pentagon.
We skipped class and ran up to the language resource center to watch CNN on a big screen TV. I felt sick to my stomach. Dave was shaking uncontrolably.
After watching an hour or so of the breaking news, we ran back to the dorms. He lives just across the street from me. It was a long walk, but we made it in less than five minutes. I've never had a problem keeping up with people when it comes to walking, but I think I met my match.
I ran up the eight flights of steps to the forth floor, and walked in to find my roommate, Megan, in tears, balling on the shoulder of my other roommate. Megan is from Brooklyn. Her brother works in the World Trade Center. Top floor.
She was hysterical.
She couldn't get through on the phones. Her friends at NYU were instant messaging her, saying they were locked in their dorms after witnessing the events of the morning in person. Megan could not stop crying or eating mint Girl Scout cookies. Mostly crying.
We watched CNN in our room for a few hours more, hearing that 266 people had died on the planes alone. Then the phone rang. It was Megan's mom - she had heard from Meg's brother. He was okay. But there's a story behind it.
At 8:30, he got a craving for a cigarette. Smoking is not allowed in the WTC, so he had to go down 110 stories and all the way outside to have a smoke. As he was heading back inside, he heard the crash. He stayed outside.
I've never heard of smoking saving a life before. There's a first for too many things in this world.