I was asleep uptown at Columbia University when the towers went down.
My friends woke me up, and we watched in shock and horror from my 10th
story window as a huge dust and smoke cloud seemed to be creeping slowly
over the city. We felt helpless watching the news or glancing out the
window and decided it would be best to try and donate blood. The line to
donate was so long that we were only put on a list and turned away as
the hospitals couldn't handle the huge outpouring of donations. I
couldn't just stay in my room. One of my good friends who had graduated
in May from Columbia, an incredible guy named Tyler Ugolyn had worked on
the 93rd floor of Tower One and no one had heard from him yet. I
decided, with all my nervous energy, to take a walk. Only my walk
brought me and two of my friends all the way down to a few blocks from
Ground Zero. The walk from 116th all the way downtown felt like it took
no time at all since all of us felt like we were sleepwalking anyway in
a world we no longer understood. We got there just as Tower 7 caught
fire, and we stayed until it fell. We then walked until we found an
uptown bound train and took it back to school. I don't know anyone who
slept that night.
The next day I decided to make the rounds at the hospital searching
for Tyler's name on any of the injured lists. I broke down crying more
than a few times while riding my bike ( as most of the trains in the
areas around the hospitals still weren't running.) Time after time I was
told that his name wasn't yet listed anywhere among injured or deceased,
and exhaused as I was, I kept looking. I took comfort in the fact that
they hadn't confirmed he was deceased. As the days passed, however, we
all gradually lost hope that Tyler was still alive. His body has not
It seems that things that have returned to normal for most. I listen
to people on campus griping about midterms the same way they always have
in the four years I've been here. We celebrate friends' birthdays. We
laugh again. However that day and the months of torment that ensued stay
close to the surface, and I don't believe it will EVER be forgotten.
Whenever one of us proposes a toast we always order a drink or leave a
chair for where Ty might have sat and we laugh...but we remember.