I don’t have a 9/11 story. It barely happened to me. I mean, it very much happened to me, it happened to my city, I lived here at the time and it broke my heart. But I didn’t work down there, I didn’t know anyone that did, and were I to spin any kind of dramatic retelling, it would be inauthentic as it’s just not my story to tell. I wasn’t even on the island at the time, as I worked in the Bronx back then and I remember, distinctly, and in hardly my finest moment, feeling like I immensely hated my life right then, stranded miles and miles from everyone I cared about, stuck at the kind of job where they asked you to get back to work shortly after the first plane crashed. I wanted a different path, I just didn’t know how to forge it for myself.
The next year was a blur of trying to get our heads around the unfathomable, and I barely remember it. I know that on the first anniversary, it was still very raw and hardly needed to be commemorated because we hadn’t stopped thinking about it for a minute. But by the second, people had starting dusting themselves off and convincing themselves they were moving on. I’d recently started a blog (it was 2003! it was the thing to do!) and had started reading one from some guy who lived here, too. On the second anniversary of 9/11, he said that he’d invited some friends to get a drink and they’d reacted as if that were a tacky way to commemorate a nation’s tragedy. I was then and am still firmly of the belief that a stiff drink is a fine way to soften the blow of a crappy memory, and told him that a complete stranger would be happy to meet him for a drink after work. Two years later, I married him. Two years later, we decided to have a kid. Two years after that, we did. And this week, that kid turns two. I never once, not for a single moment before I was kinda secretly hoping that the bars would close already so I could get back to sleep on Saturday night connected in my head that I do have a 9/11 story, but it came later, and it is a happy one. I’d never considered that pretty much everything awesome that’s happened in the last eight years spun off from the axis of something awful.
-- Deb Perelman @ smitten kitchen