Sunday, September 11, 2011

long live the world trade

When I think about 9/11 I try not to think about it in it's meaning in the vast landscape of American thought and politics. I try not the think of what was borne out of an unthinkable tragedy: the unceasing, expensive, needless wars, the blighted economy, the pointless 24-hour news loops that accomplish nothing but hype over weather phenomenons and political races. What I think about is the buildings. The heart of a city that was torn down over and over and over in front of us. And I would venture to say that most of us, when we close our eyes and fish from our memories "9/11", what we see is the one burning building and the second plane coming in, fast, and the explosion. And then we see the collapse. And then the second collapse. We don't even need to watch the footage, though sometimes that helps to re-open the wound.

When I first moved to New York, about a year ago, I increasingly thought about 9/11. How I remember the whole day, from my pretty blond Spanish teacher wrinkling her brow at the loudspeaker announcement, saying, "That's strange," to coming home from school to my dad in tears on the couch to watching the footage and seeing for the first time what had really happened to attending a dance that Friday night and feeling funny about living my life and having a good time. I thought more and more about the towers, what they meant to the city, and what it must have been for New Yorkers at the time like to see them cut down. They're a ghost in the city. I realized this when taking the ferry out to Staten Island to visit my sister; that something seemed to be missing, that I was picturing the towers rising above the skyline, monstrous and looming, that I could close my eyes and see them burning.

How is this possible? That a girl who was a mere 8th grader living three states away during the actual event could feel so viscerally the events of 9/11? The popular phrase in regards to 9/11 is "Never Forget". But the thing is, we can't forget. The collapsing towers became a part of us, a part of our country's rhetoric, part of the way we see life. All we need to do is close our eyes and see it. For my generation, it was the end of our childhood. We were welcomed into the fold of the adult world and inaugurated with footage of matching buildings that burned and burned and then, horribly, collapsed. We couldn't be protected from it. We were thrust forward by it.

And even I, a girl from far away, mourn the towers, everyone inside of them, and everything they stood for.

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