Even though I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for going on three years, I’m still a New Yorker at heart – especially on days like today. For the last 11 years, every time this particular date rolls around on the calendar I feel a little sick; I spend the day remembering in vivid detail where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news.
Right now, it doesn’t matter what you think as far as how it happened: whether you think it was Al Quaeda, the Rothschilds, the Jews, the United States government, or that guy from Ancient Aliens, what matters is that anyone old enough to remember watching those towers crumble, or to understand what they were hearing on the radio about the Pentagon attack or Flight 93 undoubtedly feels more than a bit chilled every year when September 11th comes around. Thousands of people whose lives were snuffed out simply because they went to work that day, or hopped a plane somewhere.
My fiancée almost was one of those people. About two weeks before the attacks, she had an interview for a company in the World Trade Center. She had been working for Pfizer at the time, but wanted a change of pace, which led her to apply for a job that she was definitely a shoe-in for. Her résumé was impeccable, she aced the interview, and she was convinced there was no way that she was going to lose to another applicant – but somehow the company decided against hiring her and took on someone else. The implications of what might have happened if she actually had gotten that job are terrifying, to say the least.
I haven’t been back to downtown Manhattan in several years since the attacks – at least not close enough to see Ground Zero. I went once, a couple of years afterwards, when the wound was sill raw and new and well before they broke ground on the now almost-complete One World Trade Center. Just two open pits, surrounded by nothing but a high chain-link fence and a palpable silence. It’s not the same if you’ve only ever seen it on television; it’s bigger. The impact is harder and more real, as it’s not just something that happened but something that happened.
I’d like to go back sometime soon, maybe after the construction is over. I’m unsure if I’m going to be able to. Someday, perhaps, but not yet. Not today.