Sunday, September 11, 2011

Obligatory Ten Year Post

So today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11. You can tell because for the last several weeks almost every news outlet has been airing retrospectives and today Twitter, Facebook, and most TV station were filled with tributes to fallen heroes/loved ones. And I've spent today trying to run away from all of it.

Not to say that all of my actions have been based around hiding from remembrance ceremonies for the event that is, in my lifetime, the single event most worth remembering. I would have gone to watch football today if it were any other Sunday, I would have drank beer and enjoyed cheap bar food like I have on countless Sundays past. Today, though, what was normally simply entertainment for me became welcome respite from a world that I don't feel I was ready to face.

Over the last ten years I have not shied away from 9/11 analyses or emotional recounts of the events of that day. In fact I've tried quite hard make some sort of sense of what happened, and of everything that's happened since. As today crept closer, though, I've become much more thoughtful and have replayed my own memories of September 11, 2001 several times over. I won't go into what impact it possibly could have had on an 18 year-old kid in Cleveland, Ohio - because writing it seems far, far harder to me than thinking/talking it. I will say that, as today crept closer, it became obvious to me that I would not be able to handle the volume of reliving that today would entail.

It's funny. Ten years is only significant because, through evolutionary chance, human beings come equipped with ten digits and so was born our system of math and, in large part, our conception of the passage of time. But because of this evolutionary trick I can't fathom even attempting to read anything of the New York Times' coverage of the last ten years, and even NPR's snapshot of the music community's shocked reaction was too much for me to work through. I almost lost it several times reading through Brooklyn Ink's fantastic pieces highlighting the after-effects of 9/11, and before today's football game, in the middle of a fairly busy bar, it was all I could do to keep from crying during a pregame tribute to those that died.

I like to think of myself as someone that doesn't run from my emotions. Even if I don't tend to publicly express them I always try to face them. What makes these particular emotions so frightening is my certainty that I cannot handle them. I have no idea how to deal with them. In some ways my emotions today are stronger than they were then because in 2001 all I had to deal with was immediate fear for my family in New York, and immediate sadness for everyone that died. Ten years on I've had to come to terms with just how deep those deaths were felt, and how easy it would have been for one of them to be me or someone I love.

I wrote this in 2001, a few months after the event. It's quite an idealistic piece written by a kid who still believed the ideas of teenagers could change the world. What strikes me as I read it now, though, is how much I wish I could still interact with 9/11 in such a directly reactive way. A non-introspective, progressive way. I wish, today, I could look at it and feel some sense of agency, of action.

Today, however, all I feel is powerlessness and deep, deep sorrow.