(ARCHIVE: Originally posted on September 11, 2014- updated for date accuracy)
Obviously, I try to keep my blog on the lighter side of things, sharing anecdotes that are amusing and/or light-hearted. Today, though 15 years later, is not one of those times.
Because today is September 11.
Before you think, “whoa too heavy.” & click on past, I want to explain why 9/11 is so significant in terms of the incorporation of Six Pack Mom. Stay with me…
I’ve told you I’m from NY- not the city itself, but pretty darn close to it. I’ve visited the museums, mastered the intricacies of the subway system, & spent countless days wandering through Central Park as a college student with too much time and too little money. It’s “the city“, and “my city”, because to us New Yorkers, it’s the best of the best.
And like almost all native NYers, I vividly remember THAT day. The country remembers, of course, -especially in PA & Washington as well- but here in New York, it hit just too close to the heart.
September 2001: The Captain was in college finishing up his degree, and I was the breadwinner, teaching high school English. Sometimes it’s hard to even imagine that we had a life before our kids, but those were fun times. We were young, had a cute apartment, spent way too much money eating out, working out, & just… going out.
A pristine, cloudless blue sky… while dark, fiery destruction rained down.
I was teaching nearby that morning- a ninth grade English class. I remember watching it all unfold in the department office on CNN. I remember co-workers crying. The confusion, the panic, and the smell of the smoke drifting over the school building.
I physically felt the fear: worrying about loved ones in the city, & suddenly jolted into the reality that we’re all too mortal, including the husband I had just married a year before & adored more than life itself.
The drive home that afternoon was surreal; the streets were quieter. There was a perfect blue sky overhead as the smoke curled into the air and people wept on street corners.
The air was filled with a thick, scorched scent.
And the sun was still shining, in a brilliant blue sky.
Like most people, The Captain and I were glued to the media coverage. We couldn’t get enough; it was the only way to begin to try & process such a life-altering event.
The repercussions of it were felt everywhere; suddenly, our hometowns were awash in people that were looking for a missing sister, husband, father, friend.
Or worse, already mourning them.
So much was lost that day. Thousands of people that left for work that morning, never to return.
The first responders, who knew that they were likely putting their lives on the line for people they’d never met, but who selflessly felt these strangers were worth dying for.
Those beautiful buildings, that stood for our country’s success, its ambition, its power and its grandeur.
Image Courtesy of trouvaillesdujour.blogspot.com
Our innocence. Our feeling of security- feeling untouchable in a world that is full of terror, destruction, and fear, but…
Somewhere far enough away where we could take a moment & feel genuinely bad for those people, but never be perturbed about our own personal safety.
Because c’mon, this is the USA. I mean, this is New York!
I knew people that escaped from the towers that day. And I knew people that did not. And I remember flipping through the newspaper & coming across a picture of a high school classmate. The last time I had seen him was in high school- a fun and kind young kid.
And here he was in our newspaper, a symbol of the exhaustion and devastation that other responders felt at that point in time. It hurt.
And my towers were gone. I always loved the Towers, like someone appreciates a fine work of art. The Twin Towers were my anchor in the NYC skyline; they were the landmark I’d come to look for as we crossed the Throgs Neck bridge heading to and fro home on various road trips.
They represented HOME. I’d take pictures when I was nearby; you know, on real film. Back in the day.
They were like old friends. Even now, after all of these years, I’m still not used to the hole in the skyline that their absence left behind.
9/11 was obviously a game-changer for countless lives, but it was also a turning point for The Captain and I. Previously, we’d been on the career track; both he and I were focused on building our careers & pushing off starting a family for as long as possible. (not that there’s anything wrong with that! 🙂
Our predictable, well-ordered world was pushed into a realm of chaos. Mortality loomed, and we wrestled with the idea that it doesn’t matter if you’re young, and just starting out, and feeling golden.
Life isn’t infinite. It’s short, and sometimes even shorter than one would think is fair.
And suddenly, we no longer wanted to wait to have children. It’s a typical reaction to a tragic event, I suppose- wanting to experience a life-affirming miracle that gives hope in dark times.
And even though our world seemed uncertain & fraught with danger at every turn, we felt the need to build a family- to mark our place in this life, and to create people that would hopefully make the world a better place.
#1 was born almost exactly a year later.
I’m feeling extra pensive and sentimental about 9/11 and our family life as the anniversary of it comes to a close tonight.
Having each of our six kids has been an act of faith: faith in ourselves to be decent parents and to provide a safe, loving home for each of them. Faith in the hope that each of our kids will be given the chance to grow up in a country that embraces freedom.
I’m well aware that our children have inherited a world that is fraught with fear- the fear of terrorism and war…
I also know that they have inherited a world where men and women run into danger, rather than away from it, in order to save other people’s lives.
There are still so many good people in this world – especially here, in this city that I love- that I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with the chance to raise some of the future generation. I’m blessed to live in a place that keeps pushing, keeps fighting… but doesn’t forget.
R.I.P. Brian McAleese
So tonight, I feel the sadness for the families out there that still feel the unbearable sting of loss. I also feel pride- pride in my city as I read the posts of others today and recall the acts of bravery & kindness that emerged as bright points on a very dark day.Six Pack Mom