I went to the World Trade Center yesterday… to get my son’s mac fixed and was at pains to explain what happened on that day, 15 years ago, when I, along with a whole generation, was forced to grow up.
The strange normalcy of walking into an Apple store only steps away from hallowed ground presented me with a set of mixed feelings, highlighting that life moves on but the scars still exist. Last year, I talked about a return to normalcy. But truth be told, that return is still only a surface one for most of us.
For the first time in nearly 15 years, I returned to a part of New York I had not visited. Tentatively, over memorial day, I tried to make it to the WTC memorial, a place where I hoped I could grieve and relieve. But while intellectually, time has passed, being there brought feelings that were long buried. I am not proud of the fact that I could not spend more than 10 minutes there, the pain overtaking my body still so intense after all those years.
In an odd parallel, I found myself visiting the Pompeii and Herculaneum ruins on the day of the most recent Italian earthquake. On the one hand, 9/11 was human made and what happened in Italy came from nature but in either case, no one saw things coming. In Herculaneum, skeletons remain, 2000 years in repose, waiting for the storm to pass; In New York, only the ground and the memories remain.
Every year, those of us who were affected may choose to take pause but for a new generation, 9/11 is a part of history, as far removed from their reality as is Pompeii or some other man-made or nature-made disaster. It’s been said that outside of your neurons and your central nervous system, every cell in your body gets replaced every 7-10 years. The cells powering memories and the nerves that got those of us who were there through these terrible days are the only things that remain of those days. That, and the wheels of commerce that sat under the world trade center and are now back only a few paces away.
Carlos Dominguez, Mark Ellis, Melissa Vincent, Michael DiPasquale, Cynthia Giugliano, Jeremy Glick, David Halderman, Steve Weinberg, Gerard Jean Baptiste, Tom McCann, David Vera.
This post is part of a continuing series in which I remember those I knew who were lost on that day. Here are the previous years: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002. For context, you might want to read The day after, which is about as raw as one can get about that day as I wrote that piece less than 36 hours after the first plane hit. This is the longest series I’ve ever written and I expect to continue yearly until I can no longer write.