It’s more than a bit of a relief to have the 10th anniversary of September 11 behind us. Don’t you feel, every year, as if the entire city holds its breath, in sorrow, in pain, in remembrance, in fear, for the week leading up to the 11th? It’s as if Labor Day is the dividing line between summer and the crushing realization that it’s been another year. I can’t believe it’s been as long as it has been. It both seems like the attack happened so much longer ago, and like it happened yesterday. And so much has changed, and so little. Anniversaries always bring out the most trite comparisons, and this anniversary is no different.
What the anniversary does, though, is remind me, yet again, why I choose to live here and what I love about the city and how I should celebrate its existence every day. New York is such a vibrant place to live, a city which reinvents itself constantly, while still admiring what it has been, and where it’s been, and who it’s given rise to. New York is a city of heroes, real people with real flaws, who do heroic things, every day. And, it’s a city which encourages the devotion of its inhabitants.
NYU published 110 Stories in 2002. It is a collection of 110 chapters, by 110 writers, each reflecting on the attacks of 9/11, in fiction, poetry, and dramatic prose. I can’t read too many of them at one time, they too clearly summon the anguish of the time immediately following the attacks, but they all are love letters to an existence that we all feared was on the brink of being extinguished. There are pieces by Jonathan Ames , Paul Auster, Peter Carey, Edwidge Danticat, Amitav Ghosh, Siri Hustvedt, Jonathan Lethem, Richard Nash, and Geoffrey O’Brien, to name a random few. It’s a heartfelt and heartening collection.
Today, NYU publishes September 12, which carries in its title the hope of a new day. September 12 concerns the inhabitants of Battery Park City, who moved to the neighborhood, perhaps hoping to be near, but not of the city, only to have the city brought forcefully to their doorstep. The ten years following the attack changed the way all New Yorkers thought and felt, but perhaps none as immediately as those who lived in the shadow of the towers.
Here’s to another year.