Four years

It's not cool to care about September 11th anymore.

A trite assessment, perhaps -- but from where I stand, it seems true.

It's been four years, after all. We're mostly expected to be "over" it by now. Most of us -- lots of us -- truly are over it by now, even though the images from that day, the memories, are still as vivid and terrible and apocalyptic as they were that Tuesday morning.

I don't know if it's because the 4-year anniversary is here this Sunday, or if it's because some of the images of hurricane Katrina's devastation have reminded me of that day -- but I've been thinking about 9/11 a lot lately.

The thing is, I haven't stopped thinking about it -- and thinking about it a lot -- since it happened.

I lived in New York at the time. From my rooftop in Brooklyn, I watched the towers collapse in a hazy, stinking heap of smoke; I saw people jumping from the buildings. My neighbor, who was watching from the roof with me, told me (between sniffles and sneezes) that he had called in sick to work just minutes before -- otherwise, he would have been there.

I remember how later that Tuesday, a few scraps of paper, charred around the edges, floated in the air above my sidewalk -- a busy, major street in Brooklyn. This was hours after the towers collapsed. I remember picking up one of the papers, shocked to encounter such a delicate physical artifact from a disaster as it happened. Shocked, mainly, by its mundanity -- it was a fax, a memo, something silly and banal and office-y, all crisp and black around the edges, but intact. It had made it, intact, all the way across the river, to my street in Brooklyn; it was ironic, and awful, that sheets of paper had escaped the buildings while thousands of people had not.

I don't want to be melodramatic (although -- ahem -- I am) -- but 9/11 is something I won't ever be able to forget. That day haunted me for months and months after the fact -- I dreamt about it, cried about it, talked about it endlessly, on and on and on, long after most of my friends had stopped dissecting its horrors.

I'm not going to march or light candles or do anything specifically "9/11"-ey this Sunday. But I'll do what I've been doing for the last 4 years -- I'll think about it, be sad about it, and be grateful that we made it through intact.

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