DescriptionMichael Doyle, 39, tells StoryCorps facilitator Virginia Lora, 24, about his experience on September 11, 2001, the impact that the terrorists attacks on that day had on him, and his decision to leave his hometown of New York for Chicago.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Michael Doyle
- Virginia Lora
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00:04 My name is Virginia Lora. I am 24 years old. Today's date is May 21st of 2010. We're in Chicago, Illinois. And I'm here is Michael whom I just met.
00:17 My name is Michael Doyle. I'm 39 years old. It's May 21st 2010 in Chicago, Illinois, and I'm here to tell my 9/11 story.
00:33 So tell me a little bit about how would you start it? I'm originally a New Yorker. I'm a native New Yorker and I lived in New York until I was 32 years old until 7 and 1/2 years ago and never thought I'd ever leave New York, you know as one of those New Yorkers to the the sun rose and set on New York and that was that, you know, anything outside of New York was the hinterland, you know where I'm living out Chicago was the flyover Zone and that's all you ever thought about the middle of the country now. I'm so I'm not on the committed and now emerged Chicago in love with Chicago. You couldn't pay me to go back to New York in love with the city. I mean, oh, I think I feel grateful every morning that I wake up in Chicago, but I would never have been here. I've never come here if it hadn't been for 9:11. So, you know, I've died this last time you guys were in storycorps was in Chicago. I really wanted to tell me 911 story and I missed you.
01:33 And this time I didn't want to miss the opportunity happy that you're here. Thank you. Well, so I never thought I'd leave New York, you know, I was Transportation planner. I was working in Midtown Manhattan actually work for the New York City Transit Riders Council. I was working in a building Above Grand Central Terminal under the gigantic concrete. MetLife building used to be the Pan Am building on the east side of Midtown and on the morning of September 11th. I woke up late as I always did and I didn't turn on the TV or the radio. I flew out of bed. I Stumble to the train. I'm almost called at the El just now. So that shows you how long I've been in Chicago. I lived in Park Slope Brooklyn and Brownstone Brooklyn was born and raised in Queens, but I slide Queens at the age of 25 and I fell in love with Brownstone Brooklyn and I always said I would live there for the rest of my life or I would leave, New York.
02:33 Sorry, I put my money where my mouth was basically and so I went to the train. I was on a Q train and there weren't a lot of people on it and I didn't know why and we were going over the Manhattan Bridge and I was facing away from Lower Manhattan. I had my iPod my headphones on it was like one of the early adopters of the iPods and listen to my music and there's up. There were a bunch of people looking towards Lower Manhattan out the windows of the train den den standing and looking and I thought what are they looking at was it I figured it was a tour helicopter or something cuz you see them all the time like tourists to know and sit down dammit. I didn't think anything of it and then the train got to Manhattan and a woman got on board instead of plane had just hit one of the buildings of the World Trade Center and everybody on the tree and looked at each other and we thought I would sell, you know a small plane or whatever didn't think much of it, but I figured okay, that's why the people were looking out the windows at the next station another woman got on and said another
03:33 Plane hit the other Tower and they say it's terrorism. They say we're under attack and everybody on the transfer and white. Everybody was like it and it's like that silly. You know, that can't be happening. You know, is that what you were thinking? I was thinking really, you know, like really good. That's that that that doesn't happen in New York, you know, so I have to change to another train to make it to Grand Central so I changed to the other train and by now people were talking about like the, you know getting on the train what they had seen with it heard on the news, you know that there were two planes that hit the World Trade Center and then R train stop for like 10 minutes before it pulled into Grand Central and I was just like dead silent. Like everybody was just really tense like we were all waiting to get to our office is I was waiting to get to my office to turn on a TV and see what the heck was really going on.
04:22 So train finally pulled in ran upstairs and everybody in the building and this was MTA Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters that I worked and everybody was around TVs, you know, that's where I found out about, you know, the plane that hit the Pentagon I started seeing the pictures of the burning towers and they were you know, the mayor of a state starting to say, you know that Kuwait Manhattan and I was the associate director of the job of the transit Riders Council and it was only me and our administrative assistant in that day and I looked at her I said go home you can go home where I'm going home. I'm leaving right underneath this gigantic skyscraper life. I'm leaving you leave if you want to but you know if you don't need to be here.
05:03 And she decided to stay and I decided I wasn't I wanted to go home. Unfortunately. The only way back to Brooklyn from Midtown Manhattan, as you know from living in New York is through Lower Manhattan, so I wasn't going home. So I thought I have had a really good friend to Portuguese friend. He's still a good friend Andrew say he lived in Elmhurst Queens about six and a half miles from in town and I thought I'll try to get there. So we got outside the Subways work by now stopped. This was about 9 just after 9 so that it was maybe 9:30 was just it was the two towers that already been had it must have been about 9:30 and they hadn't Fallen yet. Well, I didn't know I didn't know anything yet. I didn't know if they hadn't Fallen as far as I knew but they didn't answer phone. As far as I knew except they had when we back up a little when I got outside there were you know, there were all these business people just sitting on the curb.
06:03 Like crying and just like wandering around and just everybody was like totally like in like in shock. It was amazing. It was like seeing people just you know, this blank look on their face, you know, they were no trains and I don't know where a somebody was talking about that they were they were going to be buses near the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge to take people across without. I'll just walk a mile. I'll go to the Queensboro Bridge try to make it into Queens, which is where Jose lived some walking up 3rd Avenue and as I'm walking up 3rd Avenue, there was a deli and I I'll never remember where this twice but it's summer on 3rd Avenue and there was a video I mean a TV and I was just stopped because they were foot if there was footage of what was going on and I just turned to my laughed and I watch the footage and all of a sudden I saw one of the towers collapse and I'll never forget it. That was the moment that like my sense of reality to snap like for the past like nine nine years. No, I remember that is the moment at the world changed for me.
07:03 It took me, you know, I mean the rest of the day the rest of why don't know it's been 9 years. I still can't get over the image of that first Tower falling and how like it was like impossible and yet I had just seen it and so I was like, you can't get the hell out of here. So I walked up to the Queensboro Bridge. There are no buses. There is nothing there a lots of people Mass there and some cop trying to stop people from like walking over the bridge and I stood there for a little while and eventually just like the pictures that you know, everybody seemed from Lower Manhattan people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, which has a nice pics at walkway not so much the Queensboro Bridge people started walking over into traffic and I was one of them and eventually they were just thousands of people walking in the lanes of traffic is like one lane of traffic one lane of business people and just thousands of people walking next to cars and buses and trucks walking over the Queensboro Bridge.
08:03 And every vehicle that went over that bridge and I'm walking like right next to you you like right next to the wheels of these trucks going by, you know was packed with people there were like cabs and delivery Vans and like flatbed trucks anything it shut with shoved full of people because people were stopping on the Manhattan side just filling their vehicles up to help people get across the bridge. It's amazing. What did you feel when you see that?
08:31 I actually felt good. I felt I was I was amazed, you know that people were helping each other out because I mean I'm a native New Yorker we don't do that. You know, I mean, I always say Chicago's the friendliest place on Earth for me compared to where I'm from me now. So to see people think to strangers get me know get my car at we're we're getting out of here. I mean that was that was heartening. I'm wondering if you were walking along with a lot of people next to you in front of you and behind you. What were you hearing? What would Converse it? Were you talking to anybody or people talking with each other? What word do you remember any of that life was there people were just making comments to each other some people out of radios, you know, some people were able to make cell phone calls by this point on the bridge dollar telephone service was gone. There was no cell service nothing.
09:23 And people were talking about how you know, we didn't know whether there were any other targets like the news was saying there were other planes in the air, you know, maybe they were going to hit other places in New York. And here we were walking on this mile long bridge over the East River and now which is not a place where I wanted to be. I was pretty scared being on that bridge and so I just concentrated on not being hit by cars and is walking and when I got to the middle of the bridge remember I looked over to my right which is to the south towards Lower Manhattan where you should be able to see the World Trade Center expecting. I'm going to at least see one Tower and all I saw was a column of smoke and then I realized it's World Trade Center was completely gone and I was like, all right, you know, this is not a movie.
10:09 So I just kept walking when when I got to the other side of the bridge and no no thousands of people it's it's called Queens Plaza there on the other side of the bridge and there were few buses but there was still no subway service and you know, there was really no other option for a lot of people including me but to keep walking so I made my way to Queens Boulevard which New Yorkers will now is like it's one of the main streets in Queens. It's like 10 lanes wide is a gigantic Street and just started walking and walking and walking cuz Elmhurst is not next to Manhattan. And while I was walking I befriended I guess temporarily this group of women who were walking from Midtown and they lived on Long Island, and I don't know where but they were probably walking about 20 miles to get home.
10:57 And they had a radio. So that's finally there was some information. So we were listening to these and lose reports about what was going on. And you know, it was it was still you know, you know what they were still all these rumors about planes being in the air and other targets and you know that the mayor singing of don't go anywhere near Manhattan, you know still sing the subway wasn't running and you know, we just sort of joke with each other and didn't look behind us and just kept walking and assertive try to be as lighthearted as possible through our slow down the boulevard when I finally got to the street where josee lived and I had to turn off a Queens Boulevard to stop for a second and it looked behind me and it looked ahead of me just to see and as far as I could see back towards Manhattan and as far as I could see down Queens Boulevard, you couldn't see the sidewalk. It was just thousands and thousands and thousands of people, you know packing every place you could walk.
11:57 On the sidewalk on Queens Boulevard evacuating just it was an exodus, you know.
12:04 And so I got to Josie's house. He lived in two family house with his sister and I didn't know anybody anybody was home. I my cell phone wasn't working but just a sister turned out to be home, and she let me in she told me that she had just went and gotten her daughter who was at school in Brooklyn her daughter and I can't believe the school did this but her daughter who is at 12 at the time and her class went up to the roof to see what was going on and stay there and watch with your teachers both buildings fall.
12:39 Just a sister had to drive around barricades on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and Shadow emergency vehicles because all the highways were closed in order to get to the school, but she said there was no way she wasn't getting to her daughter. So both ways there and back she's like breaking the law, you know in Friday around parakeets the other daughter home.
12:59 So she let me in his house and sat down on the couch and turn on the TV for the first time and that was the first I was like 3 hours since I had started to walked out of Manhattan that I finally saw what happened and I just sat there for half an hour watching The Towers fall in the planes hit thumb and just
13:21 You know just taking it in. I never I've never seen to this day video of somebody jumping or falling off the towers. I didn't watch it that morning when they were said saying they were going to show that stuff. I turn the TV off and in the past nine years every time there are there's a remote possibility of seeing it. I haven't I don't I don't want to say it. You know, I don't want to see people having to commit suicide basically to save themselves From The Towers never seen the 9/11 movie. You know, I'm very glad Nicolas Cage wanted to be on the big screen and no climbing out from under a concrete slab. But now I was in Manhattan that morning once was enough for me. It's not really appropriate stuff for entertainment. I find that completely abhorrent that, you know, people made money off of 9/11 happenings.
14:12 So, you know, I got to change and shower and borrow just his underwear and then his sister came up and she said come to his his bathroom window. Let's go look and I didn't know why and she's like he used to be able to see the World Trade Center out the window. And so we went over to the window and you know, there was the little lower Manhattan way in the distance and just this huge Cloud going over towards Brooklyn like a comet had passed only to low just like low over the sky and just non-stop just is non-stop like
14:47 Contrail of black
14:51 And you know we hugged each other and I stayed there I waited there until the Subways finally came back. We found out Josie it was okay. He was in New Jersey. He couldn't get home for 24 hours, but I couldn't cuz Subway's came back sort of, you know, several stations were completely destroyed in lower Manhattan, but I was able to get home. So I got on a train with an E Train that used to terminate at World Trade Center that had been rerouted onto the F line into Brooklyn, which would take me home to Park Slope took forever, but it it was going to get me there.
15:25 On the way there there was a woman on the train and she was yelling and screaming at the conductor that she had a really important meeting at Chambers Street and she had to get the Chamber Street and nobody can have the train had to go on its original route because she had to have her meeting and you know, what do you say I mean all the conductor could say it was no we can't go there. I mean she was obviously completely in shock, but you know, you know how to how do you say to a woman who's completely in shock Chambers Street is covered in debris, you know that this train station is destroyed, you know, the ones World Trade Center has fallen the people you were meeting might be dead. You know, you can't go there.
16:05 But you know, it was just too much ranting and raving and shoes like channeling wet. Like I guess everybody was feeling inside.
16:13 So I was able to get the park slope and I went to a friend's house on the other side of the neighborhood where the train stopped who is also a transportation planner New York. He was home. His lover stabon was home. They let me in in their apartment. They were on the top floor and they used to have their they had a panoramic view of lower Manhattan, you know again, when you serve Orient yourself in New York by, you know views of Manhattan reviews of the corner at the city and you know, we didn't look out the window cuz all you could see was Thor Manhattan that big column of smoke and I was amazed when I got off the train to because it was so slow and so big in the sky over Brooklyn that column of smoke was just right over Brownstone Brooklyn. I mean it was it was disturbing.
17:00 And we sat down and we just started talking about. You know, what did we just we started riding a less? Like that's what people did in the first like couple of weeks of people just started writing list of who do we know who's who we've been able to speak to since the event do we know? Who do we know who we can't contact know who's alive who's not, you know, we are colleagues who worked in the World Trade Center to Port Authority was there are several Transportation organizations were there when I saw the the video of the first plane hit the North Tower mean that went into like a 90 something floor. I call he's working about 10 floors below. So the first thing I thought when I saw that and I saw that I chose Asos was like okay their dad, right? So we just started running one of those last to know everybody wrote those lists for weeks and I
17:50 And we had the news on and on.
17:58 And at one point
18:01 Avenues are showing people covered in you know, just so I can ask my friend Alan whose house I was up. I've been one of those people covered in Ash cuz he works for the transit authority and he had to stand at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge is people came across telling them what Transit options there were in Brooklyn to get them home. So he was covered in Ash coming over for Manhattan. He said there were there was debris raining down. There were like pages from the menus of Windows on the world that used to be the restaurant on the top of the World Trade Center just like, you know drifting down so he didn't he had a rough day too. But so we saw people walking to lower Manhattan.
18:41 You know like a way in and we just stopped for a second because there were two men and there's a woman in between them. They were holding up in there walking away and they were three other people that we knew from the Transportation modes of transportation organizations. So that was the first moment be at least near the people had lived that we knew who would work in the World Trade Center.
19:02 And that was like the first moment of like Joy all day.
19:07 It turned out that a couple of people in that office had died Somebody went back to get the computer records to get the computer backup. You know, you don't go back into a building that's been hit by airplane to get the computer back out and they died over it.
19:26 You know that was like the first moment of like release.
19:29 Then we watched 7 World Trade Center fall on the TV and we could see the, smoke it bigger out the window.
19:36 And I figured it was time to go home. So I lived about half a mile away from their north of there. So I walked home and I had to have my had to hold my shirt over my mouth everybody in Park Slope at that point had whatever they had over their mouths because the wind to change then when 7 World Trade Center fell the cloud sort of got lower to the ground and you couldn't breathe without something over your mouth cuz it was just a stick Akron
20:01 Smell that burns your eyes and it burns the back of your throat and it was difficult to walk home because you knew you were walking through that that crap that cloud and I made it home. I don't remember anything after making a home. I just you know, I just remember that I made it home.
20:20 You know, and then I waited to be sad or to be scared or to cry and I didn't cry for five days until the Saint Patrick's Cathedral memorial service at the televised across the city. I watched it and in the middle of it. I just sat down on my floor. I curled up on my floor in my apartment. I just cried I couldn't stop crying.
20:45 And that's when it finally hit me.
20:49 You know, there's a lot of you hear a lot of stories about people who were in lower Manhattan when 9/11 happened and you know, I'm grateful that I'm not one of those stories, you know, but there's a lot of people who you know might not have been at Ground Zero, but had a real front row seat to it, you know.
21:07 There's so much that happened to New York the first couple of weeks after 9/11 there were.
21:13 The Flyers of the missing, you know Saint Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, there were Flyers tons of Flyers of people who obviously they weren't they were never coming back but of missing people who died at the World Trade Center, but these are huge huge walls. I mean so many people how do you pick out an individual face but in Park Slope and in local neighborhood's there were maybe walking down the street and then there would be a picture posted on the door of your grocery store or post it on a fire and I'm sorry, I parking meter or something and you'd recognize the person you wouldn't know who they were but it'd be one of those people who you would you need one of those casual people who you knew in your neighborhood who you would not add to or maybe once in a blue moon say hi as he walked by a new idea who they were but they were just at people you shared your neighborhood with anyone knew who they were. Did you ever see somebody that you recognize anyone poloka flyer? Yes. I don't know. I mean those those people like, you know people I had seen like I
22:13 Those people who I always thought I should say. Hello to that person. I see them all the time. I saw several of those people on flyers in my neighborhood.
22:21 But I knew they were dad.
22:23 Can you describe there was one guy? I just I couldn't tell you where I would see them. You know, they're just the people who would be behind you with the grocery store to be either be next to you or in front of you at that I get the cleaners or something. Just you would just the average background people that you would just walk by and down the main street of your neighborhood. You know, you'd see the mid Noel Cab in my neighborhood and I know it and I felt a real sense of loss that I wasn't going to see them again, even though I had no idea who they were. I thought so sad that you know.
22:57 No one very very close to me that I lose a 911 but just to know that some people.
23:06 You know that share the city with me people that shared my neighborhood did it was so palpable.
23:14 I want to be a member going to you know, Candlelight vigils on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in one in Queens and you know and everybody like candles in for a couple weeks. Everybody was very nice to each other. Very generous. Very caring. We we we ceased being New Yorkers for a few weeks. We were so shell-shocked. I was amazing it it's looking back at it. Now. It's like Chicago. I mean New York for those couple weeks kind of felt like Chicago where people were just being very kind and friendly and kid gloves dish to each other, and I wished I had lasted but it didn't, you know, we all got back to our old selves and
23:59 You know, this is in this is really me burying the lead but you know, this isn't just me talking about 911 but you know, you always hear the stories about you know, New Yorkers in New York, and we're still in New York and how 9/11 affected them. But there's a lot of people who
24:17 After 9/11 made a decision to leave the city in a lot of people like me who were you know, who bled New York who you know, New York. They would never leave New York New York was the universe now it's at and
24:32 You know, there's a diaspora out there that I'm a part of thousands of New Yorkers who made this decision is that surprise them surprise me to say know what I can't be here anymore. I really I really like that term that you using hook diaspora of New Yorkers. So can you talk a little bit about what made you make that decision? Sure. Sure.
25:00 In the year after 9/11 New York from my perspective just became the security state.
25:09 Buildings that used to have access to places we used to have access to publicly like city hall or City Hall Park or architectural Treasures like the lobby of the Woolworth Building, you know, or just going into like your borrow hall or just just normal little things that you would conduct business, you know in the city and suddenly there were magnetic wands in there were metal detectors and there were sniffer dogs and there were showing ID and their place that you just couldn't go anywhere near like your own City Hall and there were. Up National Guard National Guardsmen with rifles and all the rail Terminals and suddenly, you know, what every major Corner in Manhattan. There was the NYPD SWAT teams with machine guns and you know, it's like you're terrorized by this act as a terrorist Act
26:05 And then you have to be terrorized by you know, everything that's going on to try to make you feel safer. You know, it was left my job at Transit Rider counseling. I got a job as a urban planner in times and Times Square.
26:23 That was bad idea because all you would see out the window is those NYPD SWAT teams with those machine guns in the middle of Times Square and they made me feel a lot of things but what they didn't make me feel too secure or safe. They made me feel like something else was about to happen at felt like, you know, the New York that I knew was just gone, you know, it wasn't a happy place it was as if you were living in a almost like a prison just to be there, you know, the level of scrutiny the level of security the level of armed, you know.
26:58 Security it
27:01 Just made it.
27:03 Weird it made it scary.
27:08 And it was really disappointing as well, you know the level of Public Access that was taken away and I hated it.
27:18 Is there at the moment I'll tell you is I when I was working in Time Square, they talked about like the security they tell you about in the security, they don't and I went out for lunch when I get hot dog around the corner and it look up I'm like what's a blinking red light? Like, what's that blinking red light?
27:35 Well those numbers drawn to hear about now Ten Years Later that they use like in Afghanistan or Iraq. It was a little helicopter drone with little blinking red light on it just bobbing down the street over Manhattan like 20 stories up and I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. You've got to be absolutely kidding me. That's insane. I remember going home and searching and searching the internet for this for like emblem. I do my toes Nanny until I found like here's what I saw and it's like this thing that they use like for military reconnaissance whatever and it's like floating over Manhattan and like I can't be here. That's I don't want to be here.
28:14 And I had a friend it was near the end of 2002 who had moved to Chicago a good friend and I've been to Chicago before I was an urban planner and this is where you know urban planning is born in the skyscraper was born. So I came I was 1998. I did an architecture pilgrimage, but it wasn't my city, you know, so I came and I laughed and that was that
28:37 So you came and visited him. It was the first weekend of January of 2003.
28:43 And I didn't know it at the time but you know the city slap me in the face with everything that I realized. I felt like was dead a New York a sense of Peace not enough sense of being terrorized, you know being able to walk into City Hall friendly people know machine gun-toting police on every street corner Justice far more Humane sense of day-to-day living and blue me away and
29:18 The long story short of it is I came back to Sky Blue all of my money. I came back to Chicago to visit every other week for 3 months. I must have spent about a month out of those three months in Chicago supposedly visiting my friend, but really as I realized later trying the city on for size and after those three months I
29:40 Abandoned my job. I never
29:43 Never quit. I just never went back. I don't drive. I'm a lifelong me. I was a lifelong you organize. I have no idea how to drive a car Chicago French food in New York. We got a van. We put all my stuff in. It was really an SUV. So I left a lot behind and any drug Metro me to Chicago and that was I got here in April of 2003 and
30:07 You know, I never never never went back in 2007. Actually, I can say I wouldn't go back if you paid me because I got a job offer in 2007 spent a month in New York, and I remembered instantly why I had come to Chicago so
30:28 I being police or yeah, I'm in a bunch of my friends had from childhood. It's whatever United and I felt like I needed to give New York another chance, but the sense of being policed of of the eye procedure. Never gone away and I remembered very much how much I hated it. So
30:46 So here I am.
30:50 It it.
30:52 The New York that I knew you know, yeah, I know is never coming back. You know, I
31:00 I will always be no carry around the label that you know, I'm the next New Yorker, you know, we'll always say things that your Coggins don't say like orange and horrible and Forest, you know, my pronunciations from childhood that I will carry around forever and orange and Forest and no that's not how this works supposed to be for them. But
31:20 You know it it took me a long time to realize that.
31:24 Why I came here was 9/11. I know that now why I would never have been in Chicago. I've never left New York of it hadn't been for 9/11 and
31:34 You know, I'm grateful to be here, but if I could go back and take that day back, you know and have it not happen. I would.
31:46 Because I miss
31:50 What New York used to be?
31:52 I miss.
31:54 Just the feeling of the city before it felt so security so corporate security late and you know before it became so controlled.
32:05 A little bit like Chicago feels now. I mean it was a feeling like you had access to your city and you didn't have to ask anybody permission tea to access your city.
32:16 In New York to me. It feels like you have to show an ID card and ask permission to walk out your door sometimes and that's not life. How life is in Chicago and that's not how life was before 9/11.
32:28 So I prefer that life of you know, not feeling like you have to ask permission to walk out your door and enjoy your city. And that's what's kept me in Chicago for the pets 1007 years since 2003. No, New York that I know it is never coming back. So neither am I?
32:53 What is it when you came to Chicago? Where did you come where I left off with a bunch of different places? I've lived by Wrigley Field in Wrigleyville. I lived in the Latino community in Logan Square right now. I live downtown. I'm going to be moving to Lincoln Square on the far north side might possessions have been in various places in the city as I've moved around. I've worked all over the city, you know, I've worked downtown on the North side and on the Southside, I've taught English and in this neighborhood Pilsen where we are right now and I first got here.
33:37 And I know I've I really made an effort to get to know my new home and put Roots down and and I became a local blogger. You know, I really participated in the Civic life of my adopted hometown.
33:55 I never really did that in, New York.
33:59 But you know, it's just
34:05 It's just important for me to people for people to know that you know, they're there are New Yorkers out there. You know what you said looks like we do like musings where they asked for but that's what feels there is a diaspora. We talk to each other online, you know, we we meet each other and now in different cities and even in Chicago and comes out your New Yorker and then you talk to each other and it turns out you were in New York because of 9/11 and you miss it and you're not doing pack and you never ever thought you would make that kind of decision, but you did and now, you know what to do with the rest of your life a New Yorker outside of New York. It's like being an exile in a way, you know being a refugee.
34:47 Have you met people like that? And you're definitely there's a lot of people I've met probably doesn't the people in Chicago who came here from New York and they're happier. There's a joke, you know hat what's harder than getting a New Yorker to move to Chicago. It's getting them to move back to New York, you know, but after 9/11, it's it's pretty true.
35:12 11. I guess I never thought about it that way.
35:16 What is what are people's reactions? Generally when you decide to give told the story when I first moved here. You know closer to 9:11. And you'd say you were New Yorker every Chicago. I don't want to tell you their 9/11 story. And which was what? Oh, well, well the loop was a fat people very scared which is understandable the loop was evacuated, you know, people didn't know where else was going to be hit, you know, so they down on the L and they got on buses and they just leave the city evacuated the loop and then I'm sure this happen all over the country and big cities and people are terrified and for the first few years. I lived here. I hated hearing that I wanted to tell people if you weren't there, you know, how can I I'm glad you were scared. I'm I understand you were scared, but you weren't there, you know, it's taken me years to become more charitable about that.
36:04 I understand now wherever people turned on the TV or whatever they were evacuated from whenever downtown that.
36:10 Everybody was scared on 9/11.
36:12 And I want to make peace with that and I don't tell my 9/11 story off and people will say oh here's where I was and I'll just let you know 2010, you know, I'd really don't want to go there anymore, but I will say this.
36:27 You know, I do in my adopted Hometown with a my adopted. Do you know fellow-citizens? I love Chicagoans, you know, as long as it is long, but in my heart, you know, no matter how scared that the world was. I really think that 911 in some really basic way belongs to the people who, you know ran for their lives or walk, you know in an exodus in New York in Washington on the day or in the people more importantly who didn't get a chance to enter tide, you know, that's
37:05 For me, there's like a sense of ownership about it, you know no money. Nobody was evacuated from Chicago or anywhere outside of New Yorker Washington can never really know what that was like to be there.
37:15 And they should feel grateful for that. I think very hard and how would you know, how would you try to explain this to somebody it was me who was not there for a couple it was that you were about to die wherever you were in the city, you know for several hours and then it was being reminded that you were afraid that for several hours. You were afraid you were going to die because for the next several weeks, you know, you saw the posters of everybody or even worse. He smelled it the most Subway's go through Lower Manhattan in 4 months whenever a subway train with pull up in open its doors. It would bring the smell of Ground Zero of that burnt concrete smell that disgusting smell of Ground Zero throughout the city you you would just go down into the subway and you would smell it when it rained go by are you open your window and it would just be walking over early in the morning and now it's like you couldn't escape it.
38:16 You kept being reminded of what you went through that morning. It was so palpable, you know, it's that sense of it wasn't just the day. It was the next day and the next day and that week in the next week in that month and the next month, you know living in New York 9/11 was way more than a day, you know in some ways with your exit out on New York in terms of security is still going on.
38:40 And what about
38:42 What it what do you think scared you the most about?
38:47 About that day like it was it it was like dying or people who died were people like me.
38:57 You know, the people who died were just average people going about their business going to work, you know, it wasn't a military wasn't attacked. It was rank-and-file New Yorkers who are the four attacked and killed rank-and-file washingtonians, you know, that's what was scary standing on that bridge. It's like well here I am on it on it on a big huge piece of metal and average New Yorker and they just killed a bunch of average New Yorker another giant piece of metal, you know.
39:24 It was that it was that I knew that I was among the target at.
39:33 How and how do you think you said that you didn't realize until later that the reason that you came to Chicago was because of 9/11. When did you realize then for about five years about my life and why I moved here and why I didn't and I've sort of worked it out. I've asked myself every time I write a blog post like why I'm here took me years to realize that it was 9/11. I can't give you like a the moment. I had not had a moment but I started to see I started to recognize a little by little and then when I realized that I couldn't believe it is taking me so long to realize why I came and what did it feel like they're coming to that realization. I thought it was Chicago the hedron me here cuz I love Chicago so much and I was almost disappointed that it wasn't just how wonderful I think Chicago is but it was how traumatized I had felt in, New York.
40:26 You know, I didn't realize how traumatized I had been until I realized that I really was a refugee, you know that I had left because of how I felt. You know, I guess when I eat when I left New York, I just couldn't really admit it.
40:42 Now I can.
40:47 And that's my story I guess.
40:49 I'm very happy you shared it. Thank you Papi. Had the chance and them happy to be in Chicago more than anything else.
41:00 New Yorkers don't know what they're missing.