My memory is weird. I don’t remember the important things, but I have no trouble recalling the trivial, tiny details that no sane person should remember. Like I won’t remember your name or where we met but I’ll remember what you were wearing when we met and that you casually mentioned you like pineapple on your pizza.
Eleven years after 9/11, I should remember the big things because it was one of those world-altering Big events, especially since I was a student living in New York City at the time on the corner of Lexington and 32nd street, about 3 miles north of the World Trade Center (see map below). But I don’t. I remember the small things.
My apartment in purple. The World Trade Center in red.
I remember someone running into the library announcing that a plane had hit one of the towers.
I don’t remember what I felt. I don’t remember if I was sad or angry or scared, although I hope I was all three of those things because if not, that would make me a rather terrible person.
I don’t remember if we had class that day. In fact I remember very little of the day itself until I went outside to get dinner around 7 pm at night.
I remember the thick, smoky greyness filling the eerie sky.
I remember the other-worldly emptiness haunting 34th Street.
I remember I got a soup for dinner at a little café on 34th street. (Why do I remember that?)
I remember a friend called my parents who lived in Chicago at the time to let them know that I was all right, because back then I didn’t have a cellphone and for some reason it didn’t occur to me to call them from a payphone.
I remember the same friend was supposed to take the train down to the World Trade Center in the morning for work but she overslept.
I remember an old lady slept in our Lexington apartment that night. I don’t remember exactly how that came to be except that she was stranded in the city like so many other folks and my roommate who has a heart larger than the universe brought her home and gave the old lady her bed. I remember her name was Pearl.
I remember the same roommate crawling into my bed at night, which sounds weird, but is totally normal if you know her.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night listening to the sound of sirens piercing the darkness.
I don’t remember September 12th or September 13th.
I remember taking a plane a week later to visit my family. I remember LaGuardia Airport felt like a ghost town.
I remember being scared to fly.
I remember causing a bit of a scene on the flight because the man in front of me looked awfully suspicious and was hoarding an odd-shaped object under his over-sized sweatshirt and I was determined not to die that day. I remember the item turned out to be a large camera, and I remember thinking, who hides a camera under their sweatshirt?
Those are my memories of 9/11. What are yours?