September 11, 2012

On The Eleven Year Anniversary

I posted this last year, on the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It's about not having the words and it's about the healing powers of art, in some ways, the small ways. In the big ways, it's about the hearts of people. It's about strength and compassion. And those are the same few, sparse words I can offer today. But maybe they're the most important words. 


On The Ten Year Anniversary

I have been thinking about what to say on this day since September 11, 2002. I woke up that morning in the dorm room shared with the same friend I made on September 11, 2001 and sat in front of my laptop. I wanted to put up an AIM away message and didn't know what to write. Didn't know how to commemorate the one year anniversary in words. There weren't enough words or there were too many. I settled for "Give someone an extra hug today." I thought about the ten year anniversary (very honestly, I did) and wondered if I would find the words by then.

I still don't have the words. 

(I wonder if any of us do. John Stewart comes the closest, I think.)

I remember where I was that morning. I remember the feel of the metal chair under me as I watched. I remember the fear. (It was the second week of my first year of college. It was fear on top of fear.) But what I remember the most, what I feel the most, is what transpired after that morning. 

The curve of her hat brim as she sat afternoon after afternoon in the dorm lounge watching CNN. When she returned home for October break, her skyline would look entirely different. So quiet, but she told me that. She sat on that ugly, uncomfortable green couch that the boys floor would eventually steal, while the red-head, who lived one door down, perched on the arm rest. Red hair pulled back in a single elastic, with a few pieces falling out, and comfy black stretch pants, she would debate the commentators and curse out national policy. So loud, but she dripped silent tears with us also. These two, they made up most of my heart and soul those next four years. Quiet and loud, curved hat brims and wispy red-hair. The beginning of unconditional love, that's what I remember. That's what I remember the most. 

I remember classes canceled and the few hundred of us who made our way down to the quad to hold hands in a circle. I remember the stifled sobs and the terrified faces, but I what I remember more is feeling safe and cared for among faces I had never seen before. When classes resumed, we returned uncertain and unsteady. My professor brought us up to the performing arts gym where she put on quiet music for us to move to, to color to, to sit silently to. We didn't utter a single word the entire hour but left class in awe of each other, inspired by strength and compassion. 

That's what I remember. And someday, when I find the words, those are the stories I'll tell. Until I do, I'll just leave you with this: 

{photos are mine from around 2002 in lower manhattan. the ceramic pieces were made by people from across the US}

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