Obviously, this will not be a funny post, as that would be incredibly tasteless and disrespectful. If you were looking for something funny, come back for the next post. September 11th means something different to everyone. Some don’t have any memory of the day, some barely escaped with their lives, and some lost a loved one. For me, the event is murky and fragmented. I can remember brief moments, almost like a photo compilation, stretching throughout the day and for the next two and from those memories, I can put together a story. I’m not usually one to get emotional about these kinds of events, to me, ten years is no different from nine or eleven. However, it is important to many and this is also the first anniversary that I have been able to blog about it. My story is somewhat unremarkable, one of hundreds of thousands, millions even, across the nation and the world. Mine might strike you as bland and uneventful or it might come across as traumatic and frightening. It’s your opinion and I won’t feel hurt no matter what you feel. As always, if you have any questions, additions or corrections, please leave me a comment.
I was five and kindergarten had just started for me. I left my house in Battery Park with my father early in the morning, leaving our windows open on this clear day. At school, I played games with my friends and sat down in a circle with my teacher, just like any other normal day. Except that it wasn’t. She explained to us, delicately and as truthfully as was appropriate, that a plane had gotten lost and crashed into the World Trade Center. Our room had a direct view onto the towers and we were allowed to watch the burning tower, soon to be towers. Slowly, but much more rapidly as the morning went on, my classmates were picked up by their parents and whisked back home, somewhere where they could be watched and be safe. I waited, not noticing the dwindling numbers of friends. Eventually, it was only me and my friend Nicolas. Only then did I notice the absence. At this point, my memory gets a little fuzzy, so I’ll switch over to the stories of my parents before coming back to my own.
My father had gone straight to the NYU library to do research and didn’t even know about the disaster until after both towers had fallen. My mother, caring for my one year-old brother, left the apartment with him, leaving our dog inside, only to see a plane fly directly over her head and into the South Tower. She was ushered onto a ferry and across the Hudson into New Jersey where she stayed with a friend for a couple of days. I had one parent a state away and another in an unreachable environment. It was not the best case scenario.
Finally, Nicolas’s mother arrived at the school to pick him up. Seeing me there, she found a way to get me out and gave me some kind of blue candy. I must have had some feeling of what was happening because I threw up blue all over my school’s lobby. Nicolas and I went to a friend’s house, where we played games until one of my parents could arrive. My dad came to get me and as our house was adjacent to Ground Zero, we were forced to stay with friends until it was safe to return. Two days later, we were finally able to meet up with my mother and my brother but we would never be able to go home again. Our windows, open on that beautiful September day, had filled our apartment with so much ash that we could barely save our belongings. My father had managed to evade police barricades to sneak in and save our dog who was alive but very grey. The entire event was far more scary for him than it was for me. With today being the ten-year anniversary, there are sure to be ceremonies, tearful speeches, television specials and patriotic messages. For some, those things are significant, for others not so much. Just make sure that you don’t get caught up in it all and forget what really happened.