Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Will Never Forget

Everywhere I’ve looked in the last few days I've seem to come across the words, “Remember” or “Never Forget.” On signs in windows, on the television, on newspapers, on the Facebook status of friends, on Tweets. And of course in many of those instances I wonder what it is they’re remembering, or making certain not to forget.

For me, I remember needing to step away from watching the events unfold on the television screen. From my parents’ back yard I had a clear view down to Manhattan. I chose rather to watch the smoke on the horizon. I was nearly shaking at the thought that it was only a few days earlier that I had walked through the World Trade Center plaza feeling triumphant coming from my first live interview at WNYC radio. All other radio interviews I’d done to that point were over the phone. The feeling that somehow everything had changed that day will be forever with me.

I remember being thankful at learning loved ones who were around the World Trade Center site were okay. I remember the heartache at hearing friends’ voices when they told me they were waiting for news—news that would change them forever, too.

The sadness, the anger, the sense of innocence and complacency lost—these are things I still carry with me from that day ten years ago. I also get strange sense memories of that day too. Still, sunny mornings frequently give me a chill. The quiet in particular takes me back to that day and the days that followed while all air traffic was grounded. And then a few days afterward, after my ears had become accustomed to the sound of silence in the skies, I remember hearing that first airplane in the sky, louder than any had ever seemed before when passing over my Westchester neighborhood.

I remember being unable to cancel my travel plans for the following week. I had a cruise to Bermuda booked and the cruise line stated the trip would go on as planned, just out of the port in Philadelphia rather than New York. It was a very bizarre feeling embarking on a vacation only a matter of days after those events.

I remember the insensitivity of the bus driver who was shuttling the cruise passengers from New York to Philadelphia when he put on the movie Air Force One for the drive. I had not seen the film before. It involved terrorists taking over an airplane. Some of the passengers actually started crying during the scene. No idea what he was thinking. The trip turned out to be somber and low key. I remember everyone we encountered while on the trip being especially warm because we were American. Even more so when they learned we were from New York.

I remember returning to New York and then the anthrax scare began. I learned that the book signing events that had been planned for me in Manhattan were cancelled. Nobody was gathering in groups we were told. I didn’t mind. After what occurred I said myself, ‘they’re flying planes into buildings, anthrax is being sent through the mail, who gives a shit about some movies that were made fifty years ago?’ Priorities in our collective conscious were changing. Maybe this was the one good thing to come out of such horror, to come out of a mass murder of thousands.

In the years since that day, I’ve lost some loved ones, I’ve grown very close to a number of wonderful people, I nearly lost my sister and thankfully did not. All in all, I am very blessed and appreciative of everything I have. It can all be taken away from me in the fraction of a heartbeat. That is something I can’t ever forget.