Reflections that have been bubbling through my mind on this anniversary
A world away from where I was that day
Yet I remember.
I remember seeing the pictures for the first time – New York covered in smoke and dust
I remember going to someone’s leaving-do afternoon tea
I remember the very little information we had
“I think planes flew into the buildings”
“They’re saying it’s terrorism”
Conjecture, theories, rumours
I remember going out for dinner with friends
I don’t remember what we talked about, but surely it was little else?
I remember going to a movie with those friends
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
It wasn’t good, but I probably wasn’t paying much attention
I remember first seeing the vision of planes flying into buildings the late night news.
I don’t remember crying in those first few days – I guess the shock was paralysing
I remember the days and weeks of seeing those planes, the buildings, the collapse, the aftermath, the clean-up, the fall-out.
I remember feeling lost
I remember feeling confused
I remember feeling intensely homesick – I’d been living in the UK for 18 months and just wanted the familiarity of home
I remember my quick and naïve decision, borne out of all that emotion, to quit my job and go home for a few months
I remember not knowing if it was the right decision
I remember knowing it was the only one that made sense at the time.
I remember air travel that November feeling different and daunting
I remember arriving, feeling how much I had changed since I left
I remember still feeling lost and confused
But a little safer and more protected in my childhood home and the arms of my parents
I remember feeling isolated because of my different experience of that day.
I remember all the ups and downs since those strange months after 9/11
I remember the tears I continue to shed for people I didn’t know
I remember the births, deaths and marriages in my life
I remember the jobs, homes and holidays I’ve had
I remember going to the Ground Zero memorial site and museum – not knowing if I really wanted to but knowing that I needed to
I remember it felt healing but needing a drink afterwards.
I remember the ways the world has changed in the last 20 years for better or worse.
I will always remember that day, being part of history despite the actual event happening far away from me
I remember feeling intensely human that day and in the weeks that followed
Breakable, fallible, magnificent and resilient all at once
I remember the regret and shame I felt when I couldn’t get work when I returned to the UK – but now see that time as just all part of my life story.
As we again live in the middle of history, I remember 9/11 – how it forced us to grow, change, examine who we are and who we want to be. We are stronger and wiser because of it and we will be stronger and wiser on the other side of a pandemic.
Today I remind myself that time marches on, things keep changing, the ups and downs will continue.
I remind myself to keep breathing, keep listening to my heart and choosing what feels right, keep facing the world with love not fear.
Photo 1 by Aaron Lee on Unsplash