Sunday, September 11, 2011

ten years later

ten years ago, i was sitting in american history class at my high school. outside of that classroom, american history was being made. as part of the newspaper staff, i was pulled from class shortly after the first tower was hit to view live coverage of the event. i watched the towers fall, wanting the whole time to cringe and turn away but refraining. a few years later, i visited new york and stood in what once was their shadow, and choked back tears, trying desperately to comprehend the loss of life we'd experienced as a nation. knowing thousands of people had died within blocks of exactly where i was standing. it was a feeling i'd never known, fear and bravery, fight and flight.

that day, i became more than a north carolina native, more than a united states citizen. i became, in my mind, a citizen of the world, with a new awareness that these things can and do happen. i didn't lose anyone personally. i didn't even know my new york friends, at that time. it was the first time in my life that the gravity of national events had ever affected me in such a manner. it pulled me down, held me in place, and hit me over and over until my ungrateful heart became grateful -- for life, for this kind of life, for those who provide it and sustain it... and for just how lucky i am to be born into it. this consciousness, for me, will always be tied to new york, and tied to this date. it will always jerk tears from my body, because i so often forget these things in the course of my privileged daily life.

ten years ago. that makes me feel old. at least i was able to grow older. at least that searing pain of loss, for me, is not a physical one. for so many, though, it is. they have sense memory of that day -- the sounds and smells, the adrenaline pounding them from the inside out, the rushed calls to relatives and the long walk home. words will never do it justice, especially not my words. it lives beneath the skin of the survivors, still subconsciously covered in fallen building dust. miles away, still waiting for a call that never came from a loved one who would never come home. the eyes on the other side of the television screen, knowing that they'd soon be called up to fight.

from we who viewed from afar. for everyone who will never forget. in honor of consciousness. don't forget to live.

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