by Marinka on September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009. I am reposting this from last year. A rerun, if you will, although last year, I posted it in July. Because that’s when I think of September 11th, in July, when it’s hot and gorgeous and the kids are running around carefree. (ok, so maybe they’re playing the Wii. But still, carefree.) I also think of September 11th in the spring, when there is the cliche of rebirth and in December, when families gather to celebrate and during every other month and day therein.

I don’t wear an American flag pin on 9/11 and I’m not putting a 9/11 memorial on my Twitter avatar because there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about what happened on that day. And I know that I will never forget what downtown Manhattan smelled like on that day and for many, many days after in September.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


9/11 who?

Hey, you said that you’d never forget.

Yeah, I know.

I will never forget September 10th. It would have been an ordinary day, in the way that the best days are, except that Meryl Streep held the door for me at a local furniture store, because I was pushing a stroller. She was wearing a baseball cap, but please. I’d spot Meryl from space. I thanked her and she nodded, not making eye contact. I remember thinking that I could die happy now.

The other thing that I remember that day is that I went to an overpriced paper store and ordered personalized stationary for my three year old daughter. I often think back to that. Did I really have money to burn? Did I realize that my three year old was not a big writer? Was I just that out of my fucking mind bored with my maternity leave that I had nothing better to do?

I wanted to write about 9/11 on a day that had nothing to do with 9/11 because I cannot stand the media coverage on that day, but also because I think about 9/11 every day. A few years ago I went to see a mental health professional in the hopes of getting magic pills that would alleviate my anxiety and make me a better person. When I told the therapist that I thought about September 11th every day, several times a day, he said, “I find that hard to believe.” Apparently he was of the “Oh no, you didn’t” school of psychotherapy and I didn’t have the energy to deal with him. Of course he was all the way on the Upper West Side, in psychoanalytic mecca and I was living downtown, a mile from Ground Zero. It would take a better, and less kind, writer than I am to convey the smells of 9/11. It lingered for weeks.

On the morning of September 11th, I was taking my three year old daughter to school. My infant son was at home with my mother. My daughter was on the cusp of being diagnosed with speech delay and I clung to her words whenever she spoke. I was delighted when she said “samolyet”, or “airplane” in Russian. It’s hard to believe now, but it wasn’t until months later that I’d realized that she was startled by the roar of the first plane as we’d crossed the street and she looked up to see it over our heads, heading to the Towers. I had not bothered to look up, because to me, it was just the noise of the city and I was more concerned with getting my daughter across the street safely. Amazing the things that mothers miss sometimes.

When I finally realized what her “samolyet” referred to, I could not believe that a moment that was so every day for me was a death sentence to the people immediately above me, who surely must have known what was happening. I think about that a lot–what must it have been like for them, seeing New York City so close, seeing people going through their morning commutes, all the while knowing that they were going to die. It is unimaginable, nothing good can come from thinking about it, and yet I don’t think that I will ever stop.

That’s my 9/11 connection. I will never forget September 11th, but I will also always remember the day before.

One year ago ...

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice July 27, 2008 at 5:30 am

Really great post. I liked hearing what was happening with you when it all happened, but now I want to know what you did next. Did you run home? Go into the nearest building? I’ve don’t know anyone who lived so close to the event although people here heard the plane hit the Pentagon from the Census Bureau which is quite far away.

Such a terrible day.


wfbdoglover July 27, 2008 at 7:43 am

I was sitting on the edge of my seat.

I will never forget.

Good poat.

That shrinks is an ass.


Quart July 27, 2008 at 7:59 am

Wow. Does your daughter remember that day? I lived about half a mile from the Pentagon and will never forget the smell of the smoke that filled our apartment that night. I too think about it every day.

I hope you didn’t go back to that guy. And if you did find magic pills will you tell me what they’re called because I still panic when I see an airplane that looks like it’s veered from its flight path.


Mama Ginger Tree July 27, 2008 at 8:28 am

I have chills. I was paralyzed for days following 9/11 and I live clear across the country. My husband was on a plane to London and I was home alone.

I couldn’t stop thinking of all those children who lost a parent that day since I lost my dad when I was eight. I still think about all those kids.

Thank you for writing such a great post.


Insta-mom July 27, 2008 at 10:52 am

I wanted to move to New York. I spent a week there. From September 3 to September 9. I stood in Battery Park on the 8th looking at the World Trade Center and thinking that I’d have to go there next time.

I wrote a lot about it in the subsequent days but never felt like it was enough. Because I wasn’t there. I wasn’t a New Yorker. How could I really get it? I was just a girl from California who happened to plan her flights with a great deal of good fortune. But something of the city was still alive in me when I watched it happen. I can’t imagine what it was like for you. There.

Thank you for sharing.


Z July 27, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Such a post… I can’t even attach an adjective to describe it, because they would all seem to trivialize. “Wonderful” – because of the heartfelt emotions you put out there, but not because of the memories. “Amazing” – because of the writing, but not because of the actual event. “Horrifying” – because of the event, but not because of your recollection of it…

2 years after, I moved to the city, and could still see the haunting recollections all around. Living so close, I am not surprised you still think of it every day…

Such a post… such a post. Thank you for sharing!


Amy July 27, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Great post! I think everyone has their own, very touching Sept. 11th memories. I was a sophomore in college and asleep when the first airplane hit. I was quickly woken up by my next door neighbor that I had never met before. It was a very emotional day.


anymommy July 27, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Fabulous writing. You made my heart stop thinking of that airplane overhead. I’d also like to hear what happened next, if you can.

I have etched memories of that day, but from half a world away, there was only choking grief, not terror. Thanks for sharing what it was like.


Madge July 27, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Beautiful post. I’ll never forget that day. My husband stayed home from work — which he never does. My boss was in the middle east and I spent the day between the TV, on the phone with my boss, and trying to get him out of the country. We had/have friends and family in D.C.


Melissa July 27, 2008 at 8:04 pm

My husband has a lot of family in Manhattan, and a cousin who was running late to work that day. Lucky for her. We may be here in TX, but that day was rough for us until we heard from her.

Great post. Thanks for sharing.


Susie July 30, 2008 at 7:49 pm

We had someone on Flight 11. I’ll never ever forget that day but more and more I DO have days that I DONT think about it at all.

But like a previous commentor my heart leaps in my throat and my hands shake when I see a plane overhead that seems “close” or angling strangley.

Thanks for your well written insightful post.


Vodka Mom July 31, 2008 at 6:47 am

wow. I’ve decided I love you and now have a blog crush. it’s you.


Marinka July 31, 2008 at 9:21 am

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and memories. I hesitated about writing this post for a while, because we all have memories and unfortunately, I find a lot of the 9/11 writing exploitative. And plus, I didn’t want to depress everyone because I don’t want this to be that kind of blog.

So I was really, really touched by people’s comments and acceptance.

I’m sure that I will write more about that day in the future, but basically, I went home and after the towers fell, my mother, my two kids and I took the subway to my parents’ house in Queens. My dad picked us up and the next morning, we went to my parents’ house upstate, where there wasn’t that horrible smell and it seemed that life was pretty much going on as normal. My husband was in Europe at the time and he had a really hard time getting back to NY, since the flights were suspended.

I’ll never forget that day, nor the days surrounding it. I do think about the people who were killed every day, and I truly hope that I never stop thinking about them.


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