New York, NY
I have blogged previously about 9/11, but this anniversary seems to be marked with far more public remembrances, across many social platforms, than in recent years (or at least that is how it feels to me). Since this August has been marked by multiple deaths affecting those around me, today also feels particularly poignant.
I have written it before, and I'll say it again: that September day 15 years ago feels light years away, although I have instant recall of its events, and most of the days immediately following. I say most because at the time I was in graduate school with an internship that was sited at Ground Zero, and after the day we spent about a month with no access to downtown Manhattan (no public transportation either to or from the area). I spent considerable time on September 12th attempting to make contact with my internship office at the EEOC to ensure everyone was safe (a very understanding person in the Boston EEOC office confirmed all were fine). After I had expended that energy (which felt superhuman to me), I pretty much spent the next week on the couch, re-living the events via the seeming 24 hour loop on which it appeared on my television. That time is pretty much a blur. Classes were cancelled, grief counseling set up (at least one of the professors lost someone on one of the flights), but I missed all of it. My couch was my sanctuary from the complete turmoil happening just outside my door. (I should also say at the time I lived in Forest Hills, in a neighborhood that lost a high concentration of Cantor Fitzgerald-employed lives, so every time I stepped outside, until I moved the following May, I was hit with flyers everywhere, every day pleading for help to find a loved one "missing" in the towers.)
Moving away from New York (and, ultimately, the East Coast) was the first step in my own personal healing (from many things on many levels), although I would not have recognized it as such when I made the series of moving decisions. All I knew at the time? I needed to put New York City firmly behind me, and I did just that. I completed my last graduate school final around noontime on a day in late May, 2002, and by 3:00 pm my car was packed and I was on the road headed out of Forest Hills. Not until I hit the New Jersey Turnpike did I finally look in my rear view mirror. Literally.
I have since been back to Manhattan several times, having made my peace with my memories on the first subsequent visit (which was many years post-9/11). New York City has always had a special, warm place in my heart (I've lived there twice), and that warm spot remains firmly embedded. For me, rehashing the events of that September Tuesday 15 years ago - in the immediately following years - would have been a bad idea. I needed time and space in order to gain perspective and understanding, and I took it. We all heal in our own ways and time, and 15 years into this I hope everyone has created the space and time needed for their own healing journey.