How 9/11 Changed My Life

The terrorist attacks on 9/11/01 changed my life, even though it happened seven years before I was born.

My family (Brandon, Brian, Indy, Chris and Drew Escala) on a recent trip to Philadelphia.

courtesy photo

My family (Brandon, Brian, Indy, Chris and Drew Escala) on a recent trip to Philadelphia.

It’s somewhat cliche to say that 9/11 changed everyone’s lives forever, but for my family, the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 truly had a profound impact on our lives.

I wasn’t born until 2007, so I didn’t really know how much it personally affected my family until recently.  But on the twentieth anniversary of the attacks, I learned how much an event that happened almost seven years before I was born, changed my life.

If not for that day, I might never have heard of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, let alone been born and raised here.

I was worried and scared to stay in the city. That was the reason why we ended up moving to Pennsylvania. That’s what made us want to leave the city no matter how much we loved it”

— Indy Escala

My parents, Brian and Indy Escala were living in the Bronx in 2001. They had just celebrated my oldest brother Brandon’s first birthday one week before the 9/11 attacks.

As a result of the attack, my family made the difficult decision to leave New York City and move to central Pennsylvania.

While my parents were not in midtown Manhattan on the morning of 9/11, my uncle Timmy was. He was an HVAC technician working at Seven World Trade Center, one of the buildings other than the main WTC towers that were destroyed that day.

Timmy was supposed to be on the roof of Seven WTC by the time the first plane hit.

Instead, he was on the elevator when the first plane hit. By the time he got to the roof the three-ton air conditioning unit that he was supposed to be servicing that day had disappeared. It had been knocked off by falling debris during the crash.

According to my dad, the only reason my uncle Timmy survived is because he was late to work.

“Timmy was always late, and being late that day saved his life,” said Brian Escala. “Because he’s downstairs, being late, getting a bagel, he wasn’t up on the roof yet. On the elevator, he heard a big commotion. When he got to the top he saw that something terrible had happened and by the time he got back downstairs it was mayhem.”

On his way home Timmy stopped by a local bodega and picked up an instant camera to take pictures of the horrible scene. Timmy has pictures of landing gear and a headset from the plane. This was really interesting because they were both found blocks away from the towers.

Back at home in the Bronx, my dad knew that Timmy was working at the Seven World Trade Center that morning and was definitely in danger. He couldn’t get in touch with him because most cell service in the city was down.

So he and my uncle Paul tried unsuccessfully to make it down to him by car.

”Everything was blocked off, you couldn’t get in the city but you could get out,” said Brian.

Meanwhile, my mother was at work in the city when she heard about the attack.

She was getting breakfast in the cafeteria when news of the attack came on, and everyone’s eyes in the room were glued to the television. She said she stopped in her tracks in disbelief of the situation.

”It all seemed like we were living in a nightmare,” said Indy.

As a result of the attack, my family made the difficult decision to leave New York City and move to central Pennsylvania.”

Fortunately, everyone in my family made it out safely, but that is just the beginning of the story of how 9/11 shaped the Escala family’s future.

The day after was especially rough for my mom because everyone was reliving what happened and letting it sink in.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 convinced my parents to leave the city they loved and move to central Pennsylvania, hundreds of miles away from the threat of international terrorism.

“I was worried and scared to stay in the city,” said Indy, “That was the reason why we ended up moving to Pennsylvania. That’s what made us want to leave the city no matter how much we loved it.”

If 9/11 had not happened, there is a very good chance we would still be living in the Bronx. I might have been raised a New Yorker and I would have never even heard of Tyrone. I’m sure the conditions I would be living in would be very different because we would probably live in a small apartment instead of a house.

Although I am thankful that my parents relocated here, I do wonder what my life would have been like if 9/11 never happened.

The attacks of 9/11 truly changed everything for me and my family.