One more thing I forgot to write about. Last weekend, we took the boy to a birthday party at the NYC Fire Museum. It was very cute, and they got firehats and did a scavenger hunt and ate pizza... and as we were leaving I told my husband to hold on a second, I wanted to just stick my head into the 9/11 Memorial room.
And I ducked in, and in front of me was a giant arch covered with black and white ID photos of all the firefighters lost. And somehow, oddly, the very first photo I zoomed in on was one of the firefighters lost from my own blocks fire station. I turned away, and faced a wall of candid photos on my right, a firefighter with his head in his hands, people covered in dust, their faces turned upwards while tears made rivers in the soot on their cheeks, that horrible, unspeakable cloud of blackness coming from the first tower. The closed fire station door of my 10th Street block, it's very Village painting partially obscured by all the flowers and banners and candles the neighborhood had piled there.
And I lost it. Completely lost my shit, right there. And while I first blamed it on the pregnancy hormones, the real deal is this. I was one mile away from the towers the day they fell. I will never ever begin to be able to put the experience into words, although I wrote about it in my old journal when it was fresh and raw, without editing, and maybe next year I'll post it.
In the days and weeks that followed, when my family would come to visit (I wouldn't leave, couldn't leave the city) and we walked around and saw all the hopeful, tattered homemade "missing" signs, all the smiling photocopied faces that would never be found, they all cried and asked me, "How can you walk by this every day? How can you live like this?" And the answer was, I had no choice, right? You steel yourself, to some degree, because otherwise you'd spend every day in bed with your head under the covers, scared to go out, scared to ride the subway, unable to work or shop or eat. You put your head down and go. My mantra for many, many things in life.
But now. Now all this time has passed, and I'm no longer steeled to it, and I'm actually a little incensed every time I hear Guiliani on his new right wing campaign trail. I can actually feel it again, now. So very very strange.
And if you ever get to NY, that's the memorial to see.