I live in Brooklyn, just over two miles, one bridge, and six stories from the base of the World Trade Center. Normally I have a picture-perfect view of the World Trade Center--it's the highlight of the tour of our one-bedroom apartment--but this is what my fiancé and I see now: first, ashy gray smoke billowing over Brooklyn. (The television shows the sky north of Houston Street calm and blue. But here, in the path of the smoke, there's a V-shaped, charcoal-colored cloud splitting the sky, with a little of the regular morning blue around the edges.) Second, people posted on rooftops across the neighborhood. And beyond that: nothing. The entire jungle gym of lower Manhattan is blocked by what looks like a severe fog.
The view right now is terrifying, but it will be even scarier when the smoke clears, and we see the two totems gone.
All morning, the feeling around here has been: It's worse than you think. Every nauseating shock is followed by a more severe aftershock. First there was the tap on my shoulder at the gym, pulling me away from my paper and toward the bank of TV screens. Then I sprinted home to find my fiancé in shocked tears: He had watched with his own eyes as the second plane headed up the Hudson toward the Twin Towers--Why are they allowing planes in that air space? he wondered--and hit. Since then, we have been sitting on our couch, watching the same picture in duplicate: out the window and on the TV screen. When the first tower slid down, we actually felt our building rumble. And we're separated from Manhattan by New York Harbor.
Ron ran out briefly for groceries, thinking that we'd be hunkered down at home for the next few days (Slate's New York office is in the Chrysler Building, which was shut down shortly after the attack.) He says that everyone on the street exchanged eye contact; nobody spoke. I don't know which is more unusual for New York.