I have been pondering 9/11 a lot these last few days. It’s kind of hard not to when you live in the city where it took place and you can see the memorial lights from your living room windows. More than a handful of tourists stopped to ask me what subway line to take to get to the memorial sight this weekend. The presence of police at the Fulton subway station was intense today. There is a slightly different energy in the air, and not just because the breezes are cooler and the soul sucking heat of summer has begun to pass. Everyone seems a little kinder, a little more open, and also a little more cautious. People pause when they see the two beams of light projecting out into the sky. While I usually find instant reasons to hate people who stop dead in their tracks right in front of me I have simply altered my course or paused right along with them these past few nights. It is hard not to be awe struck by those lights, and I am sure they bring up lots of intense emotions for most. And that is why I am choosing to write about this historic event on the 11th anniversary.
With the enormity of an event like 9/11 I expect to have strong emotions come up, especially today. I don’t though. Truth be told, I never really have on any of the anniversary dates. I always chalk it up to the fact that I was not living in the country when it happened. I did not actually witness any of the tragedy with my own eyes, television and pictures don’t really count, they just aid in vicarious traumatization. I have facilitated psychotherapy groups on 9/11 to talk about and work through the memories and emotions that come up. I have listened to friends’ stories. I recall my own memories. I can perfectly envision exactly where I was when I heard the news. I can still feel my stomach clamp up when I remember the hours and hours it took to until I was able to reach anyone by phone and it was not anyone near New York or who had heard news from anyone in New York. And yet, nothing much bubbles up to the surface. I am aware of how it changed this nation, how it changed the world as we charged off to war, how it has changed so many lives as men and women have gone off to fight for their country, and how it has changed the lives of those who lost people, witnessed the events, and have intense memories and losses burned into their minds and hearts.
I am beyond grateful and fortunate to live in a country where terrorist attacks do not happen monthly, weekly, or daily. Whether I agree with the war or not, I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for the men and women who have fought for this country. The people who helped others on that day, for weeks and months after, and to this day, in small and large ways, remind me that we as humans have the capacity to truly unite and care for one another in selfless ways. And as I write this I have begun to get a little emotional. So perhaps it just took some peeling back of the layers to get to the emotion that I was feeling heartless and cold about not experiencing today.