Friday, September 11, 2009

Reflections

It seems many of my friends are recalling 9/11/01 today. Over the last few years, the day has blown by for me, a mere tickle in my memory when I have to write or say the date but with none of the painful reflection that once consumed me.

I'm not sure if it is the mutual sharing that a Facebook/Twitter culture engenders or if it's just that enough time has passed that we begin to look back and realize it has been 8 years.

Eight years ...

As I watched those towers crumble on a flickering 10-inch screen, I couldn't fathom the day could ever be something to recollect eight years later.

I thought it would always feel like yesterday.

But eight years have passed.

On 9/11 I was not yet a mother,

a wife,

a homeowner.

The comfortable safety of my American life seemed impenetrable until that moment. And in the days and weeks after, I was sure I would never feel safe again.

Looking back it feels like a terrible nightmare.

I remember the initial announcement as our office radio cut to audio feed from the Today show and the panicked voice of Katie Couric relayed the moment-by-moment details, each word conveying her utter disbelief and terror at the scene playing out before her.

Our scrounging up the only TV in the office, a small, antiquated turn-dial tube with what wouldn't even be considered a picture in our age of High Definition clarity. (Can you imagine seeing it play out in HD?)

And we just stopped.

No calls came into our usually buzzing phone lines to request temporary workers.

Those applicants who had come for morning appointments slowly trickled out the doors without bothering to reschedule.

Our fervor to fill empty positions and clear the board dissipated into the stunned silence as we watched and waited.

Where were my loved ones?

Was anyone traveling?

Hello?

Are you OK?

Where are you?

I love you.

And then there was the false sense of solidarity in the weeks and months following as we fearfully struck out against intangible enemies.

Bumper stickers, flagpoles and T-shirts all proclaimed our mutual anger and pride. Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal, we were "Proud to be an American" and ready to inflict retribution "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue."

Eight years later we are again a nation visibly and audibly divided. We do not presume to stand united but instead stand firm on party lines chucking criticism for the sake of diminishing the "other" and furthering our cause.

So is it so strange to think of 9/11 as a distant memory?

Have we been "forever changed"?

Or has the opponent shifted. From that murky legion of shadows we struggled to define to one closer to home and easier to target. We trumpet causes we can take up and defend, clear before us in the light of day.

And that vulnerability we once felt? That sense of a world without order?

All is well. We're chasing down the perpetrators and casting out the evildoers.

So now we're safe.

Aren't we?