DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Cherie Ayala keeps a box of things she picked up on a trip to New York City.
“I haven’t been through it in quite a while,” she said, flipping open the lid.
These aren’t the usual souvenirs.
“That is the plane ticket,” she said, pointing out the date.
She caught that flight – September 10th, 2001 – just in time to witness history.
“That next day was the most beautiful blue sky we’d ever seen,” she said.
Ayala was attending a business conference one block from the Twin Towers.
“We wanted to make good impressions. So, we’re all in heels, we’re all in dresses. That quickly changed,” she said.
She remembers the tremor that hit her building.
“And, it just kind of shook. No one said anything… and, then when the second plane hit, they immediately said evacuate the building… We walked out – and there it was,” she said.
Ayala snapped a picture of the burning towers, before being swept up in a mad rush.
“It was pretty incredible. It was everyone moving very quickly. A lot of people were running,” she said.
She was scheduled to have drinks that day at Windows on the World, a restaurant at the top of the North Tower. Instead, she walked roughly 14 miles – buying water and tennis shoes on her way to catch a bus out of the city.
“As we kept moving through the city, you would hear the tower fall, you would hear the next one fall, you would hear the fighter jets,” she said.
The experience changed her. She now finds she’s now more aware of the world.
“And, also doing things when I want to do them. I don’t wait. I don’t wait! You know, I had been dating my husband for like 7 months. We were married the next year. That was that. I mean, you just don’t wait,” she said.
Next year will be their ten year anniversary.
“I mean if there’s something that you want, if there’s something that you want to do, go do it. You just never know,” she said.