Today a dear friend from college and her family came to visit, and I joined them on a tour of the Sept. 11 Memorial. Even though, thank God, I didn't lose anyone personally, that day was one of the worst in my life. In anticipation of this visit, I've tried to figure out exactly why. Yes, of course, it was horrible and terrible on so many levels, but the thought of that day has always made me feel like running and screaming, despairing and leaving—like punching my fist into a wall and declaring that it never happened. Like never looking down 6th Ave. to see the lack of two buildings (now replaced by one, which I also never looked at). Like avoiding all of downtown whenever possible. I've been aware that, at some point, I needed to stop running away from the memory of that day. Eventually. Not now.
I'm glad that my friend's visit forced me to act, because today was the now. It was unbearably sad, and at first I could barely look at the crushed firetruck, the slurry wall, the last column, pieces of holy things that were once ordinary. I skipped the hour-by-hour exhibits; the day's chronology is already burned into my soul. But then there was the wall of blue squares, a color that had come to signify ugliness now transformed back into its beautiful self. And the reminder of flight 93 and how they sacrificed themselves to save us all. And also the video that began with that awful, awful sound, and all the paper and a mist of almost-breathing dust, and ended with new growth, new hope, and a place for memory to rest.