9/11, 10 years later

I wrote this in 2011. I was living through an infestation. I was never comfortable or at peace until I looked at the window of my soon-to-be home and let go of the fear of what I would bring with me. I wrote this that evening, Frankensteined together from various blogs entries over several years.  They travel with me, like baggage.

I post this in remembrance of that day and this city of people.

I’ve just moved into grad housing at New School in the West Village a month ago. My apartment faces South down 7th Ave. I have the perfect view of WTC and have opted to give up my a/c in favor of the view. I frequently sit at my window and stare out, marveling at the fact that I live in NYC, and am actually studying dramatics. The towers fascinate me because they are so large I can’t believe they’re real, and yet they are. Frankly, I’m fascinated by skyscrapers, they are like manmade mountains to me, and make me feel impossibly small and frail.

In the week afterwards, I lived with a friend on the Upper West Side. I would go grab a cup of Joe at a local coffee shop, and chat. One morning, I ran into an old guy—a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. The Towers came up and he let off a speech of absolute rage that they had been built. He’d actually been really active in the fight against building them in the late 60s, and he hated those Towers. They were “an architectural crime, and empty much of the time.”

Monday, September 10th, 2001 is the first day that my mind has started to leap across the space from my window into them. I wonder who goes to that building and why. I look through the cloudy, gray mist of that day and wonder if anyone is looking back at me. Are they happy to make scratch or do they envy the freedom others have to be about and not in an office? The North Tower looks like a ship’s mast when it first breaks through the fog. I promise myself I will visit the top soon, as I frequently do with the Empire State Building.

So I said, “I guess you’re not wanting to see them rebuilt then.”

He went off, and I received another speech of rage. This one detailed the reason why the Towers absolutely must be rebuilt. To not rebuild, would be to let the terrorists win. To not return the skyline to its previous shape would be to admit that the bastards had changed our lives forever. And New Yorkers are tougher than that.

He then told me he’d already joined a grassroots community effort to get it rebuilt and they were meeting next week.

That Monday my ISP simply stops functioning and several expletives later I realize I will have to call tech support the next day. Meanwhile, must do grad classwork now!

I wake up at 8am to one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen. It’s picture perfect. And I already have shit to do before I get to class. I call my ISP at 8:20am. I am sitting on my bed in a Dr. Seuss night gown I stole from my mother. I like it, and refuse to wash it. I have gained enough emotional distance to acknowledge that it’s because it smells like her. The girl and I chat casually on the phone as she waits for an answer about my service. I brag that I don’t mind the hold because of the view—the Twin Towers. This leads to the excited—“ooh! What’s it like there?”, and my admission that I’d like to skip class today because it’s so beautiful out. I discuss the idea of going to Central Park, but my friendly CSR suggests that “if it’s nice out, why not go to the top of the towers? There’s no time like the present.” Much excitement ensues over this idea, and we close out the chitchat portion of our conversation with my confirmation that I’m going straight to the Towers when we get off the phone. It’s just before 8:40 and I notice that the towers are glistening in the sunshine.

Seeing them every day from my window gave me a thrill. I had achieved a life-long dream to come here and study and end up on Broadway.

At 8:42 am, I head off to take a shower and start my day. Gripped by protestant work ethic, I’ve changed my mind, and now intend to head to class late instead. I pause at the window to complete my new silly morning ritual. For weeks I will be haunted by one simple change in my routine. Instead of saying Good Morning to the Towers as I did every other day, I said Goodbye. For a second, I stop short, bewildered. I take one a long look at lower Manhattan, and shrug it off as I sprint to the shower. I will come to think of this moment as my last view of “the old world.”

I went to Cynthia’s apartment after they shut down the lower half of Manhattan. I packed a bag for at least the week, praying that they might open the neighborhood up by the time I needed to return. I left the house, and tugged my wheeled suitcase about 6 or so blocks, north and out of The Zone to the 1/9 subway stop on 14th St. I had never seen Manhattan so empty in my life.

Riding the subway that day, there were only 6 of us. On the street when I emerge uptown, there will be a sense of shared experience, an empathy I’d not experienced before in NYC, but not on this train. In fact, there were less people on this car than the others. No one acknowledged me or each other here, and people stared out in space directly in front of them. I sat down somewhat confused but happy to sit. Above me were ads for CityPass, a 6 for 1 price attraction ticket in New York City. Ads feature pictures of the attractions, and on this train, every picture was of the Twin Towers.

I stared straight ahead, but didn’t change cars, like the others. I could almost convince myself yesterday hadn’t happened with the Towers looking down at me. I didn’t look at anyone, no acknowledgment that might break this illusion. I didn’t want to lose this connection to the day before yesterday, and that world.

The shower roars to life, hot, and pressurized. I strip quickly, trying to make up lost time because of my dallying. I hear a second roar but it’s faint under the sound of the water. I realize later it makes no sense. It sounds like a lawnmower went by overhead.

As I’m soaping up, I hear the sound of someone running full tilt into my apartment. It’s my Argentinean roommate’s South African boyfriend. It sounds like he’s torn through our hallways and barely stayed up right. There are unintelligible screams, but the water lulls me into complacency, and I suddenly decide that maybe I’ll just stay home today. I slow down my washing and accept that a 9am class is out of reach. I relax under the hot blast of water. Frustratingly, every emergency vehicle in the city must be heading to St. Vincent’s today. The sirens just keep sounding, so loud, and so many. As I look out my bathroom window into a peaceful blue morning, I wonder what calamity is calling all of them out. It is 9:20 am.

As I walk through the kitchen, I spot my other new roommate in my room. She’s staring out my window, but I’m kinda freaked out. What kind of roommate enters someone’s room without permission?

In some ways, I stopped living my life in the moment that I exited the shower and saw Marina in my room.

“I’m looking at the plane–” Puerto Rican, she appears to be searching for the right English word. “It crashed into the World—the Tower.”

Later, Marina tells me I stared at her as if she just grew six green lobster-like appendages from her sides. The effect was unnerving evidently. She stuttered because I had yet to look out the windows, and already looked like I might be slipping into shock.

Lots of moments from that day cling to me, and I vaguely remember what it looked like as I came up to my window. I don’t remember what it felt like however. I couldn’t feel my feet. Or my hands.

I find myself saying to her, while looking at the gash in the top of the North Tower, “It must have been a Piper. I can’t imagine a jetliner flying so low.”

“No, no. It was a pretty big plane—“

“Maybe a small commuter, possibly, but what would it be doing over Manhattan?” (She tells me later that I screamed this. It felt like a perfectly reasonable statement at the time. Even coolly logical.)

“It—It may have been a Piper.”

“What is that coming out of the hole? Oh my…it looks like an ACME hole doesn’t it? You know in Looney Tunes? The holes the Coyote used? What do you think that stuff is? It looks like confetti.”

Marina has watched me mutely all this time. “I think it’s paper.”

“Like office paper? ” She nods. “8.5”x11”?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s a really big hole, isn’t it?

“Yeah.”

“It wasn’t a Piper, was it?”

“I think it was a regular jetliner, Kim,” she says, not unkindly.

I vigorously shake my head no emphatically. Then my new roommate gives me a long considering look and flees my room.

Those towers were so much a part of what we–New York–are that it was like seeing a family home destroyed. You could see the hole left behind by their absence literally. I felt rudderless and lost without them. I got lost literally downtown in October 2001. It took me a while to learn to look for the Empire State Building.

I stay at the window for indeterminate minutes watching the horror unfold before my eyes. I don’t know how long.

It is an incomprehensible accident. What could possibly the pilot have been thinking to fly so low over Manhattan? How could a second have done so? What must have gone wrong at Air Traffic Control to misdirect two planes so terribly off course? I read the New Yorker, and I know that they’ve recently published an article describing New York airspace as an air tragedy waiting to happen. It’s just too busy.

I go to tell Marina and tell her this. I even find the magazine. She nods, but is otherwise non-committal. She suggests that I watch the news and returns to her room. Later she tells me, she watched the tape of the first impact on the news after David, our other roommate’s boyfriend burst into the apartment screaming about the crash. She watched the second attack from my room, and was glad to return to her out of the way room with no beautiful view to watch events unfold on TV. She didn’t know how to break it to me that there was no way possible that it was an accident.

Nonplussed, I return to my window and continue to watch the North Tower. The hole faces my apartment squarely. I can so much of what is happening there. There is fire on the upper floors. The windows are busting out before my eyes, and fire is racing from one into the floor to the other and then up, and back across. It’s the firestorm version of Chutes and Ladders. It’s horrifying. I know, though, that firefighters are on their way to save the people. I can no longer count the number of FDNY trucks and buses that have raced down 7th towards the towering inferno that is the WTC. There are helicopters, as well, circling the buildings and surely they will dump water or pick people off of the top. This piece of normalcy reassures me that everything will be okay. They will save lives.

Funerals everyday. Another firefighter, another cop, another person who came to the situation thinking they might save a life. Every newscast, often different funerals each newscast. The loss of life was painful, then numbing. It wasn’t until the last funeral came that I realized I expected the daily ritual of grief.

No longer able to watch without more information, I decide to turn on my TV. It’s a good-sized one that sits on my VCR. Reaching for it with nerveless fingers and even less sense of my own body, I manage to hit it hard enough to send it sailing into the back wall of the brick fireplace it sits in. I cannot believe I did this. I swear that I wasn’t reaching for it with any more force than one normally uses. I right the TV and turn it on. I don’t understand it, but I’m no longer getting any signal, save CBS. And it’s GREEN. Completely green. It will be 2 days before my TV recovers from the shove. After waiting 2 months, it will become apparent that I will have to purchase cable if I ever want to watch another network’s programming again in NYC. The other networks had broadcast their signals from the top of the North Tower, and it will take them that long to find alternative places to broadcast from.

I go to my other roommate’s room. I am aware of an emotional buzz much greater than any I have ever experienced..

I don’t remember crying in the months that followed. I don’t think I did.

Certain parts of the day will compress themselves into one solid block of time over the years. My visits to Alejandra’s room do that. Alejandra, my Argentinean roommate, has visitors. 3 or 4 girls from her hometown, young girls, relatives. They have cameras and are tourists. They are at the window oohing and ahhhing over every little thing they see. Snapping pictures of the Towers as the Towers burn, they laugh, point and talk in a language I don’t understand. They bounce from the TV to the screen, seeming to want to verify the veracity of its images by comparing them to the reality out Alejandra’s window. This was a great big adventure to them. I couldn’t look at them. Even Marina stayed away from their room. Alejandra was older, and understood that all things are harder and scarier when they happen to you directly. She will shush her friends when I come to the room out of respect for my feelings.

David, her boyfriend, will go downstairs throughout the day and return with news from the street below, while Alejandra gathers the news from CBS. They’re speaking with families already searching for their loved ones, broadcast on air by 10am that morning, live in the studio, “Please call if you hear this.” I will recognize some of the faces later as they hang on my school and apartment buildings, will be able to name all the faces in the 9/11 Memorial commercials. I find myself thinking all the while of the people who wrote those flyers. Still looking 6 months later. Still waiting after years for recovery.

Those missing posters haunted me for a long time. I saw them everywhere. I saw them at my school. I saw them as I walked home. I finally found one on my building one evening, and I just lost it.

I started screaming loudly and I tore it off the building. I was screaming, I couldn’t take it anymore. “They aren’t missing, they’re dead! DEAD! Just fucking accept it already.” I just shredded it, and sat on my stoop for a bit.

I couldn’t cry though. Someone came up to me and started to ask if I needed anything–unusual here in NYC, but I just shrugged him off and went upstairs to my apartment.

From the street, David brings “The stores are filled with people. They expect we won’t have water tonight. There are US jet fighters in the air taking out commercial planes.”

“According to the news, they’ve lost track of 12 planes and some are refusing to land. They want to get those out of the air by any means necessary.” At the time, this sounded unbelievable and horrifying. Now, it sounds reasonable. Really, how do you know why a plane refuses to land? The news of United 93 will reach us shortly after, and we will await the impact of other phantoms planes until both Towers have collapsed. I will always remember the flaming ash of the Pennsylvania crash site on TV, as I dove under Alejandra’s bed at the sound of the first fighter jet roaring past her window, and past the pillar of smoke that is now the Twin Towers.

The ash was all over my apartment. When I returned home, Cynthia came with me. She swiped a surface and brought the smoky dust up to her face to examine it. She inhaled and commented, “Just imagine, you could be inhaling the remains of people.”

“The US has declared war.” He brings on one visit, up to us like an offering.

“We don’t know who’s responsible, though, David. There’s no one claiming responsibility yet.”

“It doesn’t matter. There are Americans downstairs on the street demanding we go to war. “ It turns out it is a group of tourists. It is the frightening realization of the possible public sentiment because of today, and how hawklike it will be over the next few years.

“How could you say that? I have to live here.”

He returns one final time with more information from the street below. This time he has used someone’s binoculars below and confirmed the story he’s been hearing whispered from person to person in increasing amounts of horror. People are jumping before they burn up.

Even our tourists become solemn, and as the 4 crowd around Alejandra’s window to see, David takes her hand and squeezes. “I’m not going back down.”

The remains of my world before 9/11 were all over my room when I returned. A play I’d been reading to direct, a crochet project I’d worked on 9/10. The remains of the building. The remains of people. I had to live in it.

I go to my room. I have witnessed things shearing off the building all morning, but have made little attempt to look closer or even observe what is happening after those first few minutes of watching. My emotions have swaddled me in cotton. At this point, I realize I need to know what is happening. How terrible can this day become?

Leaning forward out my window, I watch as some of the outer skin of the North Tower peels away and begins to fall. Though it looks like a maple leaf, and falls like one, in retrospect this “leaf” must have been of significant size. It falls into the void between the North Tower and the World Financial Center. It must have landed on West St. But at that point, I neither knew nor understood that what came down must land. It never dawned on me that day what dread these falling pieces of metal must have had on rescuers and evacuees below.

I continue to watch the Towers with sick fascination. I watch the area where the fires are most highly concentrated. They have moved so quickly to the top of the North Tower is fully involved by this point, and the flames are actually licking down the Tower now, having consumed all above it. I realize the sky around the building is dotted with small dark spots. Now that David has provided me with a clue, I adjust my glasses and stare blankly at the object. I make note of its rate of descent. I see that it falls steadily. Unlike the metal which seems to sail the air, this dot plunges. Looking intently, the dot comes more clearly into focus and assumes a shape. I realize I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen it on the rare occasion I’ve seen someone jump from a plane and free fall. For years I will never admit I looked deliberately to see, but instead make it sound accidental I realized what the dots were.

I go to ask David for the binoculars they have in Alejandra’s room, and stop at the door. I realize I don’t need them to see. It’s enough to understand those are people dropping out of the sky to their death. There is no need to know what color clothes they put on that morning. Videos of people jumping from much closer up will haunt me. I’ve always wondered if anyone spotted a relative in those fuzzy frames. What a hellish possibility.

My life fell into free fall. I was helpless and enraged. I couldn’t change this day, so I tried to change everything else. By fighting with everything and everyone. By trying to get myself together. By trying to figure out who I was after. The grief became symbiotic, then parasitic–a feeling outside of myself that eventually drove my movements and action into chaos.

It suddenly occurs to me that the helicopters have neither deposited water on the building nor rescued anyone who may have made it to the top. (In fact, no one can access it from inside the Tower, but I don’t realize it at this point. There will be rumors of people frantically waving for help, ignored as the Towers crumple beneath them.) I begin to realize that the size of this is more than even the best of NYC can handle. People are going to die in large numbers in those flames. I wonder how much of the building will burn up before they are able to get it under control.

It is before 10:00 am, and my phone is ringing. I leave Alejandra’s after a final visit—I no longer recall what for—and sprint to answer my phone. It is Cynthia, my 35 year old best friend and playwright. She encouraged my move to NYC. She’s been trying to call me for the past 30 minutes. I am relieved to speak with someone who I can lose it with, and sit down on my bed to talk.

If I had a favorite Tower, it was the North Tower. It was the visible from my bed, and the Tower I most often watched and wondered about. I think it was the antenna on top of it really. It was like a big colorful Sunday church hat, giving the North Tower more personality than its hatless sibling. I continued to watch it, when it was our only tower, vowing to go to the Observation Deck as soon as it is repaired.

As Cynthia updates me on what she’s heard and seen today, I am silent. For all my desire to speak to another American who understands the bizarre combination of shock and grief I am experiencing, I am unable to gather my words to express myself properly for once. She has just gotten a mobile phone and is calling as she walks from her temp position in Midtown to her apartment at 116 and Riverside Dr, near Columbia. Since calling her mother and letting them know she’s okay, she has been calling everyone else she knows. Because she finished school last year, many of her friends are now working and two of them have recently been working at the WTC. Later, it will turn out that her friend at Morgan Stanley was reassigned to Midtown just that week. The other provides our only moment of humor that day.

A friend of hers, recently hired into the chain bookstore in the underground Mall beneath the complex, has overslept. Flying though his morning routine, he dresses quickly and runs into the street to catch the trains. He never looks at the TV. He is confronted and dumfounded as he sees a massive army of pedestrians walking north on Broadway. Dressed in the corporate uniform, some are walking on New York City streets barefoot. They don’t smile, or speak. The crowd is eerily quiet; the only sound comes from boom boxes carried by various urban men and youth. They are like pied pipers and surrounded by an unlikely mix of people keeping pace with the news of what is happening in Lower Manhattan right now.

When his cell rings, he makes a mad grab for it, relieved by the distraction “Cynthia, THANK GOD! What the hell’s wrong with people?! The streets are completely filled with zombies.”

She asks if he’s near a TV. He says yes, there is a bunch of people gathered round the window of a PC Richards’ store. Go watch, she tells him. He does, and few minutes into the newscast, he tells her, he’ll have to call her back.

This story made everyone laugh that day.

As we talk, the South Tower has weakened significantly. It is losing its structural integrity. The heat is warping its supports and it is about to give way spectacularly.

The buildings glittered in the bright sunlight that morning when I woke. They looked almost silver as they bisected the sky.

Now in my recollections it is faded. I recall sound. The sound—a much shorter sound than that of its older sister–draws my attention to the window. I look out and am shocked to watch the building crumble onto itself. On the other side of the phone, Cynthia watches as well. I can hear her shocked breaths and then tears. It had been a communal activity to anthropomorphize the Towers. We call them Phil and Lil after the Rugrats poster. Now we are both mutely shocked by the loss of Phil. I note the time.

I climb backwards across my bed hunkering against the corner wall. I wrap my arms across my legs and rock. I make no sound to disturb my friend. I couldn’t if I wanted to. We just stay on the line with each other for a while. We are devastated by the symbolic loss. I do not remember much of that conversation. I only remember finding an angle that avoided the hole in the sky left by the South Tower’s demise. We stare at the North Tower for long minutes telling each other how grateful we were that one had survived. We still have one, we repeat over and over again. My favorite, I add. We avoid mentioning the people inside the South Tower, trapped inside. We avoid thinking of the people on the ground. “We still got one!”

Thanksgiving 2001. My sister, Cynthia and I celebrated by cooking a traditional dinner for 4. After, they suggested walking down to Ground Zero. My tourist sister wants to see it and we’re all stuffed.

When we arrived at the site, it was open and dark. The path wasn’t marked and the gate wasn’t locked. We followed the path and it took us into a safe area with cutout windows looking on the debris. They took turns, discussing what they saw and how it affected them. I stood to the side and debated looking.

“Kim, have you talked to your parents?”

“No. They know I’m not that close. It’s not a big deal.”

“Kim, the entire nation is on alert. People can’t make calls into the city or out, and it’s tough to get a line in the Midwest. People are freaking out, and your parents can see that it’s collapsed on TV. Your parents are probably terrified for you.”

I stared through the window and am stunned. Where I expected rubble and chaos was a perfectly formed building. 10 stories tall. Directly in front of me.

“Oh.”

“Let’s hang up and you give them a call, okay? But promise me you’ll call them when we get off the line.”

“I can’t see it. Where do I look?”

“It’s right in front of you, sis.”

“No, it’s not. There’s a building right there. Is it behind that?”

I promise and do. I am a lucky one in New York. Both my landline and my Sam’s Club phone card are working. I dial my mom’s workplace. I know that my mom hates to get calls at school, and it’s frowned upon. I am bewildered when I identify myself to the secretary and she begins to scream, “Get Lou! Get Lou!I’ve got her daughter on the line!” There’s discussion, but it’s clear that my mom has been in and out of the office frantically calling my landline—my only line—over and over again. Various people have been taking care of her class of 5th graders so that my mother’s emotionalism won’t disturb the kids.

“Kimmy! Thank God! Are you okay?” She’s clearly distressed, possibly crying.

“I’m fine, Mom. I shouldn’t have made it sound like I live so close. I’m not underneath them. There’s no reason to be upset.” I had not consciously noticed my mother’s scent until that point, but I do now, and I’m comforted by her presence.

“There are no buildings there, Kim,” says Cynthia. “It’s just Ground Zero.”

I became unreasonably angry. There was a building there and no one else seemed to see it. I couldn’t figure out why and where the site was if it wasn’t right in front of me. I was loud and beginning to upset the people around us, so Cynthia suggested we leave. I couldn’t stop grumbling about the building that blocked my view.

From my mother I find out my father has been calling from the factory as often as he can. He’s worried sick. The older kids have been told, and have prayed for the people of New York. No one is watching it on TV inside, except the adults who dip into the teacher’s lounge every few minutes. The 8th graders are in the office calling parents to come and pick up their children as my mother speaks to me. I can hear them and other faceless strangers discussing my call and my mother and the drama that had been unfolding at school since my father had alerted my mom to the fact he could not reach my number an hour before.

I continue to assure my mother I’m fine, nothing terrible is going on. That the timing may help saves lives because this all started before most people arrive for work at 9am. For the first time, because my mother insists on it, I discuss the possibility that 10s of thousands may very well be dead or dying in this tragedy. I’m far enough from the site that I have both phone and electric. I promise that I will go to the store and pick up some survival things.

June 2003. I look at my sister, stunned. “That wasn’t a building I saw at Ground Zero, was it?”

“No, Kim. It was the debris. It was rubble they showed on TV.” Then she admits that Cynthia and she planned it because they thought the shock of it might trigger my grieving process.

While the collapse of the South Tower was quick, the collapse of my precious “one left” remains etched into my memory even today. As my mom and I talk, I sit at my computer, for the first time since the tragedy began, I am distracted from the view from my window. I talk to my mom of inconsequential things like the ISP that will no longer service MAC platform. My mom confides that she worried excessively because of this. I wasn’t taking in the full impact of what happened. And then I hear it. The sound is similar and much more terrifying than the noise of the South Tower. Perhaps because I’m starting to recognize it unconsciously and what it means, perhaps because the North Tower was not as mortally wounded and struggled to remain standing even as the floors twisted away from the wall.

The sound is high pitch and whiny. A loud buzz. It’s as if someone took a stick and drove it into the hive of bees. With every second it increases until you are forced to look for the source, and the source is obvious. The sound is coming from the remaining Tower. As the noise darkens and pitch increases, a rumbling like thunder begins. The building appears to hang there boneless for a moment. Then to my terror, it begins to shrink into dust. Straight down. So long a time to fall.

Unable to withhold my response, I begin to scream over and over again, “They’re coming down! They’re coming down! They’re coming down!”. I find myself leaning so far out the window hands outstretched, as if I could catch the building and hold it aloft with my will alone. With my hands keeping pace with the fall of the tower, I find myself slamming into the window sill. I have to decide whether to follow the building out my window or crumple to the ground. I choose to fall to the ground in a fetus position unable to breathe. My mother’s screams echo my own, “KIMMY! KIMMY! KIMMY!”

My sister tells me that when my mother saw her that night, she hugged her as tightly as she could for as long as she could.

The sound of the building stops as I hit the ground. My mother stops. I hear people behind her sobbing and asking what’s going on. Her screaming has attracted to people to come to the office panic stricken. As an aside she offers, the other Tower has collapsed. For a long time I will feel that I sounded almost robotic, not petrified as I really did.

It doesn’t matter what comes after that that day for me for a long time after. As far as I knew, the world ended in a heap of rubble in Lower Manhattan at 10:28am. My dreams. My innocence. My motivation. My need to communicate. My belief that we were capable of any kind of growth at all. All of these things stopped for me like the hands of the watch from Hiroshima while laying on the floor of my apartment unable to comprehend the loss or the reason for it.

I writhe on the ground. The vibration of the building has caught in my body and I start to moan. Moan through the hard knot of grief and pain in my chest. My mother, sobbing, begins asking again and again, “Kimmy? Are you there? Are you okay?” All I want to do is wail, to keen for the loss of some many lives. I want to call up a banshee in my loss to terrorize the men who’ve created this terrible event, and send a Gollum to rein horror down upon them. I need to set my rage free to wreck the havoc deserved by this act. I realize she has no idea if this building has landed on me and will not be able to handle listening to her child in this much pain from so far away, powerless to act. I want off the phone for the privacy to do what I must.

Five years I lived caught in these moments and then I started to write. I started to process. I started to move forward again.

“I’m—I’m fine, Mommy. I’m fine. I need to go. I really do.”

“Kimmy—” She hesitates, not willing to sever the connection yet. She notices others standing nearby with tears in their eyes, and decides to let me go. “Kimmy, make sure you stay with people, okay? Promise me you will.”

“I will.”

“I’ll call you tonight.”

It took time, and then I was reborn. A different person, but not dissimilar. I feel things directly again. I have motivation, and the need to be creative and to tell stories. To communicate. To share.

“OK Bye.” I linger giving her the chance to say her goodbyes as well. When she hangs up the phone, the egg in my chest has passed, absorbed into my core unexpressed. I believe this trauma still affects every aspect of my life. Sometimes I think I’m still screaming inside.

Today is 10 years. Today, I mark an important anniversary and I go on with my life. This is the last of these 9/11 posts. They served their purpose.

I am moving into a new apartment. It has a great view of Manhattan and I can see the Empire State Building from my living room. I started to post that on facebook yesterday and I hesitated. I was afraid for a second that I might curse the Empire State Building, like the Towers. I went ahead. I have hope for the future.

Photo: Chris Brady

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