Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Think About on 9/11

Yesterday was almost normal.

When I got off the subway just a few steps from Ground Zero, there were no crowds, no ceremony. A few extra police officers. Maybe a couple of extra people with cameras; it was difficult to tell. I looked back to catch a glimpse of 1 World Trade Center, but another building now blocks my view. I can only see the tip-top.

I can't remember the anniversary being mentioned at work, but there were certainly enough comments on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, friends remembering the day or sharing where they were 11 years ago.

But it's impossible for me to fit into only a few characters all of the things that run through my mind when I think about 9/11. Snapshots from the day, and even the night before.

I think about how my Mom accompanied me to Columbus the day before, since I had a daylong retreat for the student newspaper at my college on Sept. 11. We ate at Johnny Rockets, and I got some hairbands at Target.

I think about seeing my friend and roommate Allison the morning of September 11. We hadn't seen each other all summer. We drove to the retreat together. "Rockin' the Suburbs" was on the radio.

I think about the retreat that was cut short when we all heard the news. Allison and I first heard about it in the car, and I thought that it was certainly an accident.

I think about the silent car ride back to Ohio, when Mom and I listened to talk radio all the way home. I remember the long, long lines at the gas stations.

I think about how I didn't see any footage of the attacks until we were in Defiance that night. My eyes were glued to the TV until college started the next week.

I think about Mexico, where Paul had flown just a few days earlier to start his 10-week study abroad program. It was the last time I was able to go to an airport gate without a ticket.

I think about the victims. I simultaneously imagine and try not to their last moments.

And of course, I think about New York: now more than ever. Right after 9/11 occurred, I thought that not only would I never want to move to a big city, but that I would never want to fly ever again. But the city has moved forward. My co-workers, who smelled the acrid air and walked hours home that night, have moved forward.

As a country, I hope, we have all moved forward. But that doesn't mean we've forgotten. Especially when there's so much to remember.

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