Ten Years Gone

Ten years ago it was Tuesday. I was riding my bike along Long Island Sound, saying goodbye to one of the few things I knew I would miss about living in Connecticut.

Ten years ago my family was three days away from moving into Brooklyn. We were finally going to be city dwellers again for the first time since I was an infant.

Ten years ago we were so excited.

Ten years ago I finished my ride, put the bike in our now almost empty garage and headed inside for a glass of water.

Ten years ago my dad called me downstairs.
    “You have to see this.”
    “I’m just going to take a shower”
    “You have to come down here right now.”

It’s all a blur after that. Once the second plane hit we knew it wasn’t an accident. When the towers fell, it was like watching the kind of movie I can never watch again.

Our phone rang off the hook. My dad used to work in the Trade Center. All our friends and family were calling to find out where he was. Later I learned that he had been invited to a breakfast at Windows on the World. He almost went because the view was so spectacular, but we were moving, and he couldn’t spare the time.

My father lost eight friends. It was days before we could track down one of his best friends. Jay was the only person I knew who wanted to get on a plane that week. He was stuck in Arizona. His wife was in White Plains.

We moved into Brooklyn. I’ll never forget the moment the smell hit me — as if everything organic was burning all at once without distinction. We joined a candlelight vigil on our new front steps. We couldn’t find our candles. I got a flashlight and pointed it up into the sky.

Then I went back to college in Chicago. At home I’d been one of the calm ones, in Chicago no one else flinched when they heard an engine overhead.

Ten years ago today, I’m still on that bike. Flying along Long Island Sound on a beautiful morning. Two months ago, I gave that bike away. I’ll probably get a new one in the Spring.

Ten years gone, and the the world isn’t really all that different. There is good and there is evil. People continue to invent ways of making the world more beautiful and kind. People continue to twist their gifts into weapons of hate and cruelty.

Ten years ago it was Tuesday. Today it is Sunday. I should get ready for church.

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