T Minus 40: October 7, 2001

Something unthinkable happened. I am a sensitive person. I shut down. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I couldn’t use it to make art, so I stopped.

On September 11, 2001 I was a 24-year-old budding songwriter just starting my career in NYC. After the attacks, I had nothing left to say.

About 4 weeks later, I made a pilgrimage to Ground Zero to try to achieve some closure. To wrap my brain around what had happened. When I arrived back home I learned that the US had declared war…

October 7, 2001

Today I went there.

I trekked down Broadway in a long line of tourists that came from all over with video cameras and regular cameras to point and shoot this horror. I don’t know why I went really. I think I needed it to be right in front of me to believe it.

First, you notice the smell, from the minute you ascend the subway stairs. Then there’s a glimpse every block of something familiar, but you don’t quite recognize it. Slowly, block by block you start to see more, recognize more. Things are eerily familiar. The Borders books on the ground level looks alright, but everything above it is blown out and scorched through. The smell thickens and so does the crowd. You get angry being surrounded by visitors coming to gawk at the carnage, destruction, the horrible reality. You notice the stores on the street that must’ve been open as the massive clouds of dust and debris rocketed through their windows. The final and most horrifying scene is the view from directly across the street. It’s the most recognizable remaining piece of the structure, the outer steel beam construction of one of the towers stands tall, but it’s burnt and it’s broken.

I was standing in the street staring at modern-day ruins. I couldn’t stay any longer. I saw a tomb before my eyes. A mausoleum for thousands. I saw suffering and fear and loss. I saw terror. I turned to leave, I don’t think I stood there much longer than a minute. The pictures on TV were real now – which was what I wanted for better or for worse.

I didn’t think I would break down, but I did. I turned to Yves and held onto him. I let out some of the tears I’ve held back for almost 4 weeks, not all of them. I’m not sure I’m done. I would like to be able to say it was cathartic, but even though I let emotions out I am still as full of them as I had been. It’s not going away for me. My immediate friends and family are safe, but I am scared.

I turned on the television tonight to find that while I was weeping at the sight where so many of my neighbors perished that we, as a country, and our allies had begun a military campaign that may last for quite some time against those we have found to be responsible. I’m not sure what to make of all of this right now, but I don’t think I’ll stop being scared any time soon.

I like peace. I like my way of life and I feel it’s being threatened. Sometimes I think I would rather die than live the way these men in Afghanistan who hate us would have us live.

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