I feel like I have to mark this day somehow, as I have for the past several years . . .
I feel so connected to this day on such a personal, visceral level . . .I worked in lower Manhattan for several years; I was working at a shoe store two blocks away on the day of the first WTC bombing in 1993. Knowing what I saw that day, and then trying to translate my own experience to the magnitude of this second attack, I feel like somehow I “get it”; I tell myself that I am not just one of those people who is appropriating someone else’s grief for my own purposes.
but the more I hear about what some of the people I know went through on that day, the more I start to believe that I am really just a fraud after all . . .
I know the rhetoric–that this day happened to “us” as a nation, and particularly to “us”, my beloved hometown of NYC. But if I am to be honest to myself, it didn’t happen to *me*. Not in the way that it would have happened “to me” had I still been in the city at that time . . . not in the way that it happened to these people I know, people for whom those streets were not merely recent memories viewed from a distance, and for whom the events of that day cannot be shut off from their consciousness simply by changing the channel on their TV set.
Had I been there, had my feet walked those streets and my lungs breathed that death-filled air, I would not now be capable of watching those events reenacted, moment by painful moment, as I did today and have done for the last several years. I would not be capable of sitting in front of The History Channel until I am too sick to my stomach to watch anymore. If I had lived it, I would not be merely trying to imagine the tastes and smells and sounds of that day, because they would have been indelibly seared into my brain, far beyond the reach of any psychic “off” switch.
Those of you who have lived it, and survive it still, are as much heroes to me on this day as those who lost their lives nine years ago, and it is a privilege to be able to honor your journey.