Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

I have been thinking about this post for quite some time but not with any sort of productive result. The image in my head is that of a chef endlessly stirring a swirling pot of unpleasant emotions that refuse to come together to form anything coherent. What I would prefer is if the chef could bring all these elements together to create a brilliant and deeply moving meal. But instead, I am serving up only a post made up of random ingredients that may or may not mean something to anyone, including me.

Today is September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of a really bad day. Everyone has a story to tell from that day, some more compelling than others. My own story is about my father-in-law who was on the 57th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. It is a story that has been told by others before me and I feel like it is pointless for me to tell it over again. My father-in-law has no interest in talking about that day and no intention of telling his story over and over again. And since it is his story and he’d like it laid to rest, I feel as though I, too, should let it rest and not drag it out once again. I guess it’s inaccurate for me to say that his story is my own from that day, as really my story was just one of waiting. My husband & I lived in Boston, MA at the time and we were both in graduate school so we witnessed it all from home in front of the TV, like so many others. For anyone who wants to read more details of Mr. Dall’s experience, there was an article published recently in Lower Manhattan’s weekly newspaper, Downtown Express that gives an adequate description.

One thing I keep thinking about is whether or not it means anything to me to write about this day. What can I say that has not already been said? How is my sadness distinct from all the other sadness that surrounds the memories of the day? I entered a push pin on the The New York Times' interactive website that shows where people were on that day and how they felt then, as well as how they feel now. Well, I wasn’t really able to elaborate much on my feelings; if I had to record my feelings from this day ten years ago, as well as my current feelings, I would need a lot more than 100 characters with which to work. All I really need to say is that now, ten years later, I feel angry but somehow not all that surprised that our world seems more messed up than ever. What would worldwide optimism look like?

For me, a dominant memory from September 2001 is that my husband and I were “trying” to get pregnant and a month after September 11th I actually would be. The only regret I would have about it was that the world was feeling like a particularly hostile environment to bring a baby into. Now my baby is one of the few things that brings me any peace when I think about the state of the world. And mostly I try not to think about it too much, figuring what good is that going to do me? None of us may know how the human spirit survives something like that; what makes the difference between someone who pushes on after a tragedy and someone who falls apart? It’s a bit of a crap shoot, like many things in life. My husband and I were fortunate ten years ago in that we only had to wait a mere 5 hours to hear good news of our loved one. We dodged a bullet that day, but we haven’t always been so lucky. Call it fortune or destiny or random chance or God or what have you. It is not always kind. But it is not always so evil.

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