Simultaneously posted at Rice Daddies.
It rained heavily the night before the Tuesday the planes hit the World Trade Center towers. My wife and I got into a huge argument. I don’t remember exactly what we argued about. Only that we had argued about it before and that the absurdity of the argument was that it didn’t have anything directly to do with either her or me. Despite this, we argued passionately about it.
The next morning was cool and sunny. We decided that arguing about absurd topics that had no direct impact on our lives was just plain absurd and very draining. We decided to leave the house together and take the train downtown. I was on my way to work and she was on her way to Borders in the Trade Center. She was going to spend the morning reading and we were going to meet for lunch.
We were running late and felt the ground shake outside the subway station on Delancey. There was a loud Boom! We thought something had happened on the bridge. We were near the Williamsburg. Then someone pointed at one of the towers of the World Trade. We saw smoke. At the time we were told it was a Cesna. Aaliyah had died the summer before. We walked on.
We turned around on the edge of Chinatown. By the court house where Chinatown becomes City Hall and the Financial District. By the time we walked back home, the first Tower fell. We watched the second Tower fall on TV. My wife cried. I was in denial. It was just the drama of smoke from the fire clouding up the television camera.
I don’t remember the Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. I remember the pillar of smoke rising from the site where the World Trade stood. And I remember the wind brought it up through the Lower Eastside. My wife and I shut the windows but could not escape the smell. Burning tar mixed with the uneasy sweetness I remember from a field trip to a crematorium that I took in high school. The name of the class was “Death and Dying.”
That Saturday, my wife told me she was pregnant. We had spoke about children but actually having one seemed so far away. We took a week to sit on the situation, to decide what we were going to do. The following 9/11, I took the day off. It was windy and overcast. My wife and I wandered around town the entire day, pushing our eldest in his stroller. We sat at the Chelsea Market and had coffee before turning back for home.
Last year I attended a workshop at the New York Historical Society called Objects & Memory. It got me thinking about “artifacts” and the memorabilia we keep close to us and the souvenirs that don’t mean as much.
Since 9/11/2001, I haven’t given the day much thought. Disgusted by the bickering over the memorial, the xenophobia, and the unpunished attacks on friends in the Muslim community. It was life as usual September 11, 2003. It wasn’t until last year that I was reminded of the significance of the event. I told myself that I would not let all the negative things about the aftermath of 9/11 dissuade me from memorializing all the positive things that day took away and celebrating the positive things that have occurred since.