I look at a country today 9 years removed from a cowardly act of misplaced and warped retribution and I see that the grass still grows green and the trees still bloom in Spring. We still get our coffee each morning and watch football on weekends. Time may have stood still that horrible morning as airplanes streaked across that piercing blue sky into the towers, but it cannot be stopped. It can only be paused at these defining moments to allow us a moment to reflect.
I have a hard time remembering life before 9/11. That time seems so distant to me. I felt so young then and feel so very old now. I find myself missing that time more and more today. I see children born after 9/11 who through no fault of their own were born to an age of hate. I pity these children for the innocence they will never have. This fear will ever be a part of their lives as the mushroom cloud was part of mine. All they will have is hate. To them it will be normal. This will be their lives.
I scan the television today, as I always do on this day. Everyone is doing something to memorialize and commemorate. Me? I try every day to forget the horrors I saw that day. People leaping to their deaths. People crushed. People incinerated. Alcohol has been my traditional method of amnesia for 9 years now. Others cannot forget, Will not forget. For them, the memory is all that sustains them. Today, they are in their element. I often find myself amused at man’s desire to assign blame and marvel at his creativity. But not here. Not now. Not today. Red? Blue? They are so similar yet consider themselves polar opposites. Good and Evil incarnate. But personally, I see little difference between the two. To me, it’s the same as Chocolate or Vanilla. There was a time when that was a life changing decision for me.
When I see people on the television or on street corners ripping open the wound to drive their own personal narratives, it sickens me. I feel the anger build up inside me like a tea kettle. Then something happens. A singular image appears in my mind. While I didn’t witness this event, it remains as clear to me as if I had watched it in person. I see people flying down the stairs fleeing the burning building and the horror above as a fireman races past them up those same stairs and into the Mouth of Hell itself. I see the collapsing building on my mental screen. The camera cuts to the people flying down the stairs as they scream and cry and beg their Gods for forgiveness. The camera then cuts one last time to that man sending himself into harm’s way as he looks up and sees the weight of civilization crashing down towards him.
I often have to pause and draw a deep breath when I think about this. Tightness wraps around my chest like a Boa Constrictor. My vision contracts into a singular line of sight. I feel pressure building around and behind my eyes. These reactions, reflexive in nature, wash the building anxiety away from me. And just like that, I regain my focus. If I had a wish that could be granted instantly, it would be for all others who remember that day to experience something similar. Be it the passengers fighting back against their kidnappers fully aware that they are doomed but refusing to allow any more lives to be lost, or the doctors and caregivers who stitched and bandaged each physical wound, or the friends that salved the emotional ones that awful day, everyone has such a moment and for those that do not, I wish they could find one. Instead of living inside that noxious, grey cloud where once a building stood and where time stopped cold, I wish they could take a deep breath and look just inches past that point where the sky is still so blue it hurts your soul and realize that time moves on regardless of our efforts to bunker ourselves.
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