Thursday, September 11, 2008
When our family went back to New York this summer, it was the first time I'd been back since the towers fell. Even though I knew they would be gone, though I've seen photos of it since, I found myself looking around for them. To see the profile of the city without them took my breath away each time I turned around. I loved being back in the city. But I couldn't shake the sadness that caught me every now and then in this great feeling of loss.
My husband was in those towers the first time it was bombed, back in 1993. He was living there then, working for Dean Witter, and I remember the phone call, and how he came off the airplane covered in black soot with nothing except the clothes on his back. Evacuation had been swift, and the place he'd lived near the towers shut down.
When we went back this summer, there was a day of remembering for us. Walking around, seeing where he used to eat, get coffee in the morning, cross the street... all of it now gone or changed. For those who live there, life goes on, but for us, time has stood still. The changes in the landscape are jarring.
Here where we live we pass the Pentagon every day. The color of the granite is whiter and brighter on the section rebuilt.... a reverse scar of sorts that you just can't turn away from. Planes still fly over the highway, so low they almost scrape the tops of the building, heading into Reagan International Airport, and my heart stops each time I see them. My father watched the smoke billowing out of it from his office window that morning.
There was a time, for a while afterwards, when we all flew our American flags, and took care of each other, and stopped being republicans and democrats and independents and factions. We were all Americans, and, for a small time, that was enough. It was everything.
I suppose it is in our nature to look at what we disagree with instead of what we have in common. Like noticing the whiter granite and the gaping hole in the skyline. We cannot choose a new president if we don't know how the candidates differ. But I do get tired of the hatred and anger... We have more in common than what separates us. And I hate to think it takes a terrorist and a true American tragedy to remind us of that.