September 11

September 12, 2011

.by ME.
It is my birthday, and I am 23, which is a peculiar thing because it was only last month that I’d finally got used to being 22.
But a decade ago I had just turned 13, and my dad came into my room, which was very unusual first thing in the morning, before I had even opened my curtains. His face was incredulous, frightened around the edges, which I remember thinking was also unusual. I’d never seen him look like that before.
“They’ve flown two planes into the World Trade Center,” I remember him saying, and he sort of ran-hopped out. I remember thinking that I didn’t know what this meant. I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was, only that it was in New York and that I didn’t like to place its two towers on the Sims because they always disturbed the aesthetic scope of my cities with their height. And I remember lying back in the blueish light of 7am and thinking, “This must be big,” but not really understanding why.
I kept the newspapers from that morning. I filed them away carefully in plastic folders, not wholly cognisant of their import, but aware of their strangeness. It was only at school when almost every class and its teacher was tuned to the television unmoving, both that day and the next, every one eerily well-behaved, that the enormity began to sink in.
The horror grew steadily over the next few weeks, and has never left me. And it is a horror that has been reflected in every great loss of life since, both human-induced and natural. That stunning nausea, and that consuming guilt of being OK, of being only a spectator amid so much suffering. And in the end, that extraordinary love that breaks almost painfully some days later, watching people help each other, rally together, and stand beside strangers; that love that affirms the going-on, and reminds me why it is the only thing that matters.

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