I know where I'll be on September 11-- I'll be at St. Luke's in Darien, where so many families lost mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers,sisters, sons, daughters. Best friends. I'm glad to go to this fine parish. I hope I can do some good, and I think so.
I won't be in New York, where I was on that day. I won't be at St Clement's or at St. Paul's or on the pile -- there is no pile anymore. Won't be at the Seamen's Church. Won't be at any of those places.
I won't be at my current parish. I wish I were. Actually, I wish I were lots of places, and I also wish I were nowhere. I don't know what I want on that day. I know I want something, but I don't know what it is.
I want to run away. Maybe to Italy, where 9/11 is not front and center in public memory. Maybe India, where so many millions of lives have ended suddenly, in so many ways, for so many centuries, from so many causes. Maybe Africa, where I have never been. In those days, I wanted everyone to visit the smoldering site of the World Trade Center. I wanted everyone to see. I felt impatient with people who would not go. I hid this, because you don't help people by scolding them, but it was so. And now, ten years later, I want to run away.
The radio this week is all 9/11, all the time. I understand this, but I have a hard time listening. Actually, I can't listen -- I, who dissolved in tears when the familiar beloved voices of WNYC-FM came back on the air five days after the attack, cannot listen to those voices talk about any of it now, not for very long. People need to remember, someone tells me when I very tentatively bring up my inability to listen. Of course they do, I agree quickly. I do not share my desire to run away.
But what about those of us who never forget? Who think about it every day -- I can honestly say that there has not been a day since the bombing when I have not thought about it at least once, and usually more than once. No matter where I have been, at home or abroad. Every construction or demolition site I have seen, every pile of rubble from a building site, every fire truck, every siren brings it back. Every glance at the skyline of Lower Manhattan, or of any other city, every glance down Seventh Avenue. Every entry into the station, as we screech around the curve in the tracks, a sound I heard so absentmindedly for so many years -- we screeched around the curve, riding the cars into the dim bottom of the World Trade Center. Now we emerge into the open air. We can see the slurry wall from the train windows.
I live my life. I'm productive. These persistent memories do not paralyze me. But they are never far away.
The day was beautiful -- a perfect sunny New York day. Not too hot, not too cold. The sky a brilliant blue. I've grown weary of hearing, again and again, about how ironic it was that the weather was so perfect -- there were greater ironies afoot that day than that one, believe me. But indeed, it was a gorgeous day. Most of the anniversaries of 9/11 have been gorgeous, too, maybe all of them -- prompting many more wondering exclamations about the unbelievable irony of this meteorological fact.
I hear it might rain on Sunday. I hope it does. I don't want it to be gorgeous like it was that day. I guess I do know what I want. Even now.
I want it not to have happened.