I've been trying to ignore as much of the media coverage as possible of this tenth anniversary of 9/11, but late last night found me caught up in reading the New York Times' collection of readers' memories of the day. And later still I watched this haunting video put together by the Columbia Center for Oral History.
One of the memories that jumped out at me was this: I most remember the quiet and stillness that fell over NYC in the days that followed. It was the saddest quiet.
I remember that quiet too, in the days and weeks following that Tuesday morning. I lived half a block away from the George Washington Bridge back then, and late at night when I couldn't sleep I would sometimes go stand on the corner and just look at it. At the traffic, and how at first there was so little of it, but within days it was back to normal; at the lights and the noise and the dirtiness of it, all of which felt eerily comforting, somehow.
But the strange truth of it is that I was just beginning to fall in love the day that we were attacked, and the days and weeks following that Tuesday morning were amongst the happiest days and weeks of my life. There was that sad, sad quiet, but the quiet also seemed, to me, to be suffused with golden light, with a collective breath of love, and those months of autumn that year glowed.
This discrepancy is an odd feeling to harbor, especially today in the midst of this national orgy of public grief. A decade on and that particular love is long gone, but I am grateful to it for making those heartbreaking and terrifying days for so many seem, to me, to be so strangely beautiful and true.
The city is still here, and the bridge is still here, and we are still here. The other comment that jumped out at me last night was this, from someone also living here in Manhattan: I was where I always was - and hope to stay.