Sept 11 is a day that I consider a rebirth every year. It’s like my new year’s resolution day. I always vow to do something for the better on that day because it’s the one day that changed me forever. I got lucky that day and I’m extremely grateful for that. It was a Tuesday and it was one of the most beautiful days you can possibly imagine, crystal clear blue skies, sun shining, a bite of autumn in the air but not enough to wear a jacket. I remember walking outside at 8 o’clock in the morning on my way to work and saying out loud “hello gorgeous” to the sky, it was THAT perfect of a day. I can tell you I had on a black tee shirt, grey skirt and black loafers (that I still have, covered in 9/11 soot stored in a box in my garage). I remember the sound of my friend Leslie’s voice when she called me at my office while watching the news, inquiring of my whereabouts and distance to the World Trade Center. I remember calling Will to see if he was still at home and hearing the shock in his voice as he watched the horror unfold from our then apartment window 2 blocks south of the buildings. I remember talking to my cousin Jen and devising a plan to meet at her place because clearly going to mine was out of the question. I remember waiting to hear from my husband who had gone radio silent after the second tower fell and praying out loud for his safety. I remember him walking through the door of my office, covered in ash and who knows what else, my relief to see him was overwhelming. I remember walking to 86th St and stopping every time we saw a TV for an update. I remember sitting at the diner around the corner from my cousin’s apartment ordering cheeseburgers and not one of us eating, paralyzed by shock. I remember the fear in my parents voices, pleading with us to leave the city that we were locked into. It was horrible because I watched with my own eyes so many people’s lives change forever and there was nothing we could do about it. And yes, being in the city on that day was very different from watching it on TV, we couldn't turn it off.
Being a New Yorker is something I’m extremely proud of. A colleague once asked me if I could chose anywhere to live in the world where would it be and I remember looking at him quizzically and saying, I already live here. Living in NYC is an acquired taste without a doubt. It’s gritty and hard on the outside but it’s strong, unique and brilliant on in the inside. There is no place like it in the world and I don’t truly feel at home anywhere else. I learned a lot about myself on 9/11. My level of strength and resolve, my ability to not panic in extreme situations, my depth of love for a city and community, my optimism that it would get better with time, my commitment to my family magnified a million times over. I learned that I’m a fighter and that I’m not afraid of the unknown.
All of the above leads me to today. For as much as 9/11 changed me, it’s now 13 years later, the city is strong and the skyline is ever evolving. I have yet to go to the memorial, and now that I have some time on my hands I will probably go it alone on a day where I can have peace and quiet and time to reflect. It’s been 8 years since we lived in that neighborhood and I often wonder what has become of so many places and people. As they say, life goes on…yes it does. So this year my 9/11 resolution is to embrace change, for I've had a lot of it in the last few months. I’m walking around with a big question mark above my head these days but I’m certain that won’t be for too long. Change is good. Life is too.