In New York, It's Impossible to Forget

I've lived within thirty miles of midtown Manhattan my whole life. Sometimes, I inadvertently have the New York arrogance that we live at the center of the world. I forget that what happens here, doesn't always affect the rest of the country or the world in the same personal & all-encompassing way it does for those of us who consider the city our backyard.


I in no way mean to suggest that September 11, 2001 did not impact our entire country. Of course it did. I know that everyone who watched or listened to live reports, or those who awoke to a world turned upside down remembers where they were, what they were doing, or who they were with on that infamous day. What I remember still runs chills up my arms.

I got to school, through first period, and onto second before everything changed. During homeroom announcements, prayers and intentions, we were asked to pray for those affected by the accident at the World Trade Center. I mildly recall girls whose parents may have worked in the buildings leaving class and heading up to the main hall. Many of us had parents working in all different corners of the city. But we still didn't get what was going on.

When I got to art, our guidance counselor was in the front of the classroom listening to the radio with Ms. P. It wasn't weird that she was there, but the look on her face was ominous. By then, we knew planes hit the towers, but we still didn't get the whole "terrorism" thing. We were 16. She explained that nothing would ever be the same, how this was a significant event in the history of the United States, and beyond that - I can't really recall...

We wandered around campus in a somber haze. My most vivid memory from the day is standing outside on what was one of the most unforgettably beautiful days of my life, my face craning towards the clearest blue sky, closing my eyes, and listening to the frantic sirens of every emergency response vehicle in Westchester heading to where everyone'd been running from.

I remember being in the cafeteria when I finally talked to mom. My dad worked five miles north of the World Trade Center, and should have been fine - but you couldn't call anyone in the city. All circuits were busy. She said, "Daddy's ok." It was all I needed to hear - but she continued: my aunt was ok, dad's friend was ok, her friend's husband, my uncle, etc. Whoa. We were so lucky.

This wasn't just an attack on America. In New York, it was an attack in our backyard, against our families, friends, neighbors, way of life, and identity. My sister's friends lost their dads. My dance teacher was run out of one of the towers over the shoulder of a firefighter. We'd never let a bag go unclaimed in Grand Central again. It'd be forever difficult to sit in traffic on a bridge or tunnel without a cringe. I wouldn't apply to any colleges in the city. New Yorkers would never feel as safe as we might if we lived anywhere else in the country.

Today is a spectacular sunny blue sky day, just like it was eleven years ago. If you weren't here that day, you probably don't remember that part of the story - but for me, especially on days like this, it's impossible to ever forget.

LGdaily life, in memoriam, september 11