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Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11: Ten Years Later


 I was there that day. Living in "The City", many blocks uptown. Sometimes memories morph into something that you are not sure really happened. A memory can get confused with facts and fantasies swirling in your brain. Not this one. I could see the smoke from my apartment. I could smell the death for a month. For several days, my friends  and family searched for each other, making sure each other was OK; making sure each other was alive. Many were not. Cell phones eerily connected to voice mails. Ghosts of voices never to be heard again. Names trickled in the first few days. The names of friends who went to work that day on the doomed high floors.  The names of the many firefighter friends who ran into the flames. Then came the funerals and memorials. None with more than a photo. No bodies, no belongings. So many on some days that I had to pick and choose which to attend.

The new reality began to set in. Months of bomb scares. My own apartment building being evacuated with a bomb scare. Each subway ride interrupted for bomb scares and searches.  The smoke lingered. An ever present reminder. The rumors were heart wrenching. Stories of children dancing in an Arab neighborhood in Brooklyn, as the planes struck. Stories of taxi drivers fleeing the country with their families the day before the disaster. Rumors of Muslim World Trade Workers staying home that dreadful day.  Rumors drawing the dividing line that gets darker everyday, still.

Months went by, we tried to settled in to life in a new world.  The  City was stunned with PTSD and survivor guilt. The City yearned for the unity we felt those weeks following the event. Many left. I was one. To this day, I feel like a deserter, weak.  I have been gone nine years and I cannot go back. Back to my home. I often tell people "We must never forget". Sometimes I wish I could. As I write this, I feel as if I am still stunned from the new reality which has never really set in for me.