Monday, September 10, 2012

Patriot Day


Tomorrow is the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I have been living in a cocoon of denial for those eleven years, refusing to watch video footage of the planes, unable to even consider seeing one of the movies about that day, and avoiding conversations on the topic. I just recently discovered that I can finally approach the subject without breaking into sobs.
The World Trade Center was my home away from home for the month of August, 2001.

The Marriot was in WTC 3. A walk through the lobby of the North Tower and across the bridge got me to work each morning. source


While I worked at the Financial Center across the street, I stayed at the Marriot WTC, a twenty-two story hotel that was completely dwarfed by the 110-floor towers on either side. There were coffee shops everywhere, and it was nice to get a big cappuccino and sit in the plaza and people-watch. There were so many good restaurants in the hotel and the WTC complex that I didn’t even have to leave the building on busy working nights. There was a huge shopping mall below the WTC, and a big clothing store across the street, so any last-minute necessities could be procured immediately (and late-night shopping urges could be satisfied).
It was not uncommon to find a tourist sprawled in the middle of the plaza with a camera pointed upwards, trying to get as much of the towers as possible. source 
The WTC was also the perfect base of operations for weekend activities – located nearly at the southern tip of Manhattan and with access to train and subway stations, the hotel was my launching pad for four weekends of non-stop shopping, dining, and sightseeing.

I had the subway figured out, at least enough so that if I got off at the wrong stop once in a while I didn’t worry, but either got back on the next train or just explored a new area. I walked miles and miles of city streets and was forever getting turned around. I found more neat little shops, tiny churches, and colorful neighborhoods than if I’d somehow found my destination the first time. I dined on caviar at a Russian restaurant, drank sangria at a Spanish restaurant, saw a Broadway show, and found kindred spirits in the Village. I shopped for linen suits (August in New York City!), and shoes to replace the ones I wore out. By the end of my time there I was pretty sure I could stay forever. I enjoyed that assignment in NYC more than any other during my nearly 20 years of on-the-job travel.

A familiar sight: approaching the towers at street level. source
I’d been back home for a little more than a week when my radio alarm woke me with the babble of panicked voices talking about the World Trade Center, and of course, I thought it was a dream. Just in case it wasn’t, I detoured toward the television, just in time to see the second plane crash into the South Tower. Not a dream, but definitely a nightmare. So many people lost.

Why did I have such a prolonged emotional response? It’s common enough that there are popular theories: survivor guilt, misdirected anger, generalized anxiety. I think it is simpler: just plain grief.  It was a strange, terrible day, and it’s been a strange eleven years, but I seem to be waking up from the nightmare finally.

Patriot Day, as we call it now, does not make me feel patriotic, it makes me feel sad. But it also makes me nostalgic for a wonderful summer I had once in New York City. Tomorrow when I take a moment to remember the victims, the rescuers, and the survivors, I will also remember what was there before. 

source
Katrina


 

9 comments:

  1. We'll be thinking of you today especially and all the many other people affected by this event.
    Pete visited Ground Zero and didn't realise the unreported devastation.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts. You're right, most of the reporting was about the Towers, and there was much less mention of the other buildings, the surrounding area, the underground levels, the highway, the train terminal, it goes on and on.

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  2. My heart is sad, I hope peace comes in a wonderfully huge blanket for you, to wrap yourself up and give a hug... Blessings and warm memories of your fond time... Hugs...

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  3. Beautifully written Katrina. My heart breaks for you and all who've suffered so much from the tragedies of that day. NYC is my adopted city and I hope to retire there - it has increased in spirit since 9/11. We're stronger than we know. xxx

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    1. Thank you. I have realized that too - the city as a whole had an infinitely worse experience than those of us watching from afar, and generally recovered faster and moved on with their lives. Not to oversimplify a complex situation, but there is something about people in crisis operating more effectively.

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  4. I, one of millions, will never forget. This is a beautiful tribute Katrina. I wish you peace regarding this memory.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am glad that I can finally have the memory without some sort of meltdown. :)

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  5. I, one of millions, will never forget. This is a beautiful tribute Katrina. I wish you peace regarding this memory.

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