I don’t know how you feel about it, but for me September 11th is never going to just be the day between the 10th and the 12th.
Now, I’m lucky. I didn’t lose anyone I loved. Surprisingly enough, living in a New Jersey town full of people who commuted to the City every day, I didn’t even lose anyone I knew. I’d stopped commuting long before, but the last place I commuted to was 7 World Trade Center. My office looked straight at the vertical stripes of one of the towers—I could never remember which one.
So I didn’t lose anything—nothing tangible, anyway—on September 11th. But we all lost something—the innocent idea that those glass-and-steel towers so many of us worked in would be as intact when we clocked out as they were when we strolled in with our morning bagel.
And we gained something, too—an extra layer of fear on our commutes and plane rides. As if those weren’t uncomfortable enough to begin with. I still feel that fear—but maybe that’s because I don’t do it regularly; maybe after enough day-in-day-out commuting, the fear moves to the back of your mind. Though I find that hard to imagine.
In 2001, my then-partner worked at a PR agency. She saw the plane hit the tower from her New York-bound commuter train and called me, told me to turn on the TV. Later that morning, as she and her colleagues in mid-Manhattan—a couple of miles north of the carnage—tried to go on with their work, they saw a press release come across whatever service they monitored. Some clueless flak had slapped a new opening line on it, in light of the morning’s events: “And now for some GOOD news…”
Fifteen years later, we haven’t yet gotten comfortable enough with 9/11 to commercialize it—thank God. But last year my in-box filled up with earnest emails from stores and websites, assuring me that they Remembered. I unsubscribed from every one. Remember—fine. But don’t use it as an excuse to put your name in front of me. Don’t use it to try to build goodwill, to get money out of me later.
I’m off social media today. Even though I wasn’t directly affected, it’s still just too hard.