I haven't really been able to process my feelings about September 11, 2001. I have such confusion when I begin to think about it. I know I feel the same basic things that everyone else is experiencing -- extreme sadness at the loss of so many innocent lives, pride in our American heroes, anger at the terrorists behind this massacre. But I also feel disconnected in some way, removed from the reality of it all. I wasn't there. I didn't know anyone who perished in the disaster. All I did was watch the whole thing on television from a great distance. Sometimes I feel like somehow I should have been there, or at the least, I should have been in New York. It's such a silly thought. I've seen the nightmarish footage. Why would I want to be there? What would I have done? What could I have done? Nevertheless, it's a recurring thought that I can't seem to shake.
I was in New York for most of the year 2000 before returning to live in Los Angeles in December of that year. I lived on Long Island with My Second Family and spent a lot of time in the city. It was the first time I lived there as an adult and I came to understand firsthand why it is The Greatest City in the World. In June of 2001, I went back to New York for an incredible week that included two celebrations of my thirtieth birthday and the wedding of one of my best friends. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I left New York feeling elated. I never imagined The City would be changed forever just three short months later.
I was born in New York City. I lived in parts of Queens and on Long Island until I was five years old. Then my family, like so many other New York Jewish families, moved down to South Florida. We would take an annual trip up to New York for Thanksgiving to visit my grandparents and extended family. Often, those trips included excursions into the city from the South Shore of Long Island. I remember when I was still pretty young, my family went to The Twin Towers. I never called it The World Trade Center. It was always The Twin Towers. We went up to the observation area on the top floor and took in the view. Everything was so quiet. The people looked like ants. The cars and cabs seemed to be moving in slow motion. The world was different from up there. We even ate at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top floor. We did so many of the touristy things in New York -- The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, South Street Seaport, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, etc. -- but none left as big an impression as that visit to the top of The Twin Towers.
Granted, I am wildly nostalgiac by nature, but every single time I drove out of New York City and headed back to Long Island I had to take one last look at the skyline. In 2000 alone, I must have driven in and out of the city a hundred times and, without fail, as I was leaving, I would glance in the rearview mirror and try to take a mental snapshot. That skyline was implanted in my brain at a very early age. I could never get enough of it. To me, it was, and still is, one of the most beautiful things in the world. I think the reason I always took one last look was the fear that somehow I might not ever get the chance to see it again. And I was proven right for doing so. I'll never get to see the complete skyline ever again. I loved those buildings. I still can't believe they're gone. It pains me to try to accept that they no longer exist.