Fourteen years. It’s been fourteen years and if I think hard enough, I can still hear the static of the radio in the English department when I came in for lunch. It reminded me of Walter Cronkite announcing the death of JFK and I made a tasteless joke about someone taking “a potshot at Bush.”
It was 9/11. And it was likely around the time when the North Tower was collapsing. And when I learned about what was unfolding in a static world around me, I stumbled to the telephone to call my husband and tell him to turn on the news which he was already watching.
And then I called my babysitter to make sure that my son who was six months and two days old was safe. Even though he was nowhere near the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or a farm field in Pennsylvania. The Boy was safe and I knew in an abstract way that he was safe but I needed to hear my babysitter’s smoker-voice telling me that the Boy was safe and all was well.
But the world wasn’t well and it’s taken me this long to start realizing that I am finally moving on, moving past 9/11.
Which makes me feel guilty because in the choice to remember and to teach 9/11, I feel like I’m supposed to hang on to the day and live within the confines of the day. But in choosing not to let terrorism reign supreme, I must choose to live beyond the day which means that I need to do exactly what I am doing.
I am not forgetting. I do not want to forget nor will I choose to forget.
But, today, I am choosing not to spend hours watching the documentaries that will tell the stories that I have been collecting through the years. Right now, the Boy is turning on Netflix and we are living in this moment of a quiet time fourteen years away from the snapshot moment that has been living as a vestigial tail tucked between my legs.
I am still collecting stories, will always collect stories. But I recognize that the miles I walked around the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City this summer helped me finally walk through 9/11. Not away. I almost wrote that. But that is to deny, to forget, to release beyond the fact that I am folding the memories into origami cranes and letting them fly around my head and not hang like concrete poetry in my heart.
I fear the world my children are going to inherit. I am not so naive to think that terrorism is over and that the world is safe. I know better. And I fear what is going to eventually occur which will make 9/11 something that is far less grievous. But, at this moment, I am going to live in this present moment and love what I have, a sense of peace on a day that I didn’t think I would ever be able to reconcile to myself.
Please know that I am not trying to be callous towards the broken memories that are a part of today’s shattered mirror image. When I watched a video today that memorialized the loss of 9/11, I again felt the need to teach, felt the need to mourn. But the intense grief and sadness that used to follow me…well….a receding shadow. I am still sad. But I think I have finally stopped mourning. I miss September 10th.
But I have found September 12th. And I want to live in the spectrum of these September 12’s because I have waited for fourteen years to find them. And siting in my home, watching silly movies with my family is good.
Come May, I will be teaching 9/11. And I am ready to teach it now just as I was ready to teach it last February because I want my students to know what has happened and the world they are going to inherit. But I haven’t written my last will and testament yet.