I was at work. I've always had early hours. I worked doing data for a large financial services company and another woman started the day with me (another early bird). She had a small TV with her as database queries can be slow and boring. She'd just become a grandmother and showed me pictures (photos, not on a screen).
She was watching her little TV and I was doing my work when she said, "Jes, come over here." We watched -- it was footage of the first plane. The perspective was off so we were unsure if it was a big plane or a small one. Then there was a mentioning of a second plane. I went to www.cnn.com
and saw a blurb on it, not much yet. I called my husband and told him to go to CNN online. He said it was jammed and he could not get in. I took some screenshots and emailed them to him. His folks live in NYC (though not near there) and, well, you get concerned.
Other people from the office began to come in, and none of them knew anything. Pretty soon a good three dozen or so people were standing around watching the little TV. I remember thinking the first one was an accident and the second was pilot inattention. It was surreal.
Then we heard what had happened at the Pentagon. I remember very distinctly saying out loud, "That's an act of war." I felt my stomach hit the floor.
We were told to get to work, and even went to a meeting. I was completely distracted; I have cousins who live in the area. Got out of the meeting, called my folks. They said no one had heard from my cousin M___. It was close to noon. I wanted to get out. The big boss (over the woman who had foolishly tried to hold that stupid meeting) told us all to go home for the day.
I got to South Station and it was chaotic. Walking around by all the tall buildings, it felt as if any of them would fall, any minute. There were cabs and a huge line. I ended up directing traffic, telling people to share cabs. I shared one with another woman. Got home, turned on the TV.
And -- my husband did not get home until later. He saw the same madhouse and walked home from Boston (a few miles). We just hugged and hugged. Got a call later, my cousin was okay. Got an email later, our friend L____ was fine but tired; she had had to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and was 8 or 9 months pregnant. Everyone else was accounted for.
My parents learned later that they had lost one of their neighbors on one of the planes.