who am i to write about 9/11?
Sunday, September 11, 2011
i was 17 years old on september 11, 2001. a mere senior in high-school, sitting in english class 1,000 miles away watching the towers fall on TV. i guiltily stared as other's lives were destroyed, knowing that my own little world was perfectly safe and controlled. the only selfish teenage thought i had running through my head was whether or not my cool college boyfriend would be deployed. i literally thought that after such an event, all young men would be sent to war the very next day.
ten years later, i ended up in new york. weekend bike rides that end downtown where the towers once stood leave no trace of the misery that once was. it's as if it never happened. but then you talk to the people.
our downstairs neighbor recalls leaving her door open all day and doing a head count as tenants came home to their apartments. luckily, all were accounted for, though most knew of someone who was still stuck downtown in the nightmare. everyone gathered in 1 apartment as many tried to reach friends and family who were unaccounted for.
i recently walked to the subway with a new acquaintance, only to find out that she no longer takes the subway after living through 9/11. she was stuck underground that day, only picking up terrifying bits and pieces of what was going on outside. she said the hardest thing was not knowing if her husband and 3 year-old son were safe. it was the unknown that was more terrifying than the thought of dying on the subway train.
last year i met a babysitter on our block who lost her boss. on the morning of 9/11 she was getting dressed for work. before departing, she heard the news and immediately called the house of the young family she worked for. the father worked at the world trade center. after no word for almost a week, she received a letter in the mail to attend the memorial. understandably, "call the babysitter" is the last thought during a time of crisis. the baby boy she cared for on a daily basis had lost his father before he could say the word dad.
most of the stories i've heard are from those of the unaffected. by unaffected, i mean those that didn't lose an immediate family member or loved on. everyone in new york was in someway affected. stories about how the city was at a stand still- mail wasn't delivered, grocery stores had no food, and many downtown restaurants opened up to feed workers and city officials free of charge. those who lived downtown couldn't leave their apartment for weeks after without wrapping a wet bandanna around their face so as not to breathe in the ash and debris. new york magazine wrote an article about children being picked up from school, looking outside, and asking their parents why people were "falling" from the building.
before moving to new york, 9/11 was a surreal event that i only understood through the eyes of NBC. i feel inadequate to be sharing anything with you related to this day as i know there are others who lost their lives and loved ones. if anything, i hope this post brings some realness to the tragic events as it has for me since moving here several years ago.