There are days that you never forget. Days in your life that when you let yourself think about them, the memory is more clear and vivid that what you did in the last hour. Every detail floods your being as though you are watching a high definition television screen. Only here the experience takes over your body as if you are living it all over.
Even though it is something you never want to relive.
And before you know it there are tears running down your face.
The day Kennedy was shot is like that for me. The day my father died. The day I walked out of a full time corporate job for the last time. And today.
When I left my house this morning to go to the gym I was glad it was overcast and humid. I've grown uncomfortable when today is one of those picture perfect September days in New York when the summer isn't really over and the fall hasn't really begun. The kind that of day it was twelve years ago.
I walked past my local fire house and I saw the trucks parked on Amsterdam Avenue blocking the driveway. The garage was open and inside it was set up with tables and chairs and white paper tablecloths covering the tables. One firefighter stood on a ladder raising the flag.
By the time I was finished at the gym and I walked back the tables were filled with people. The families. Firemen were greeting each other at the entrance. One leaned on a cane. Someone was filming outside. He told me they asked not to take pictures of the families.
I paused. Because I will always pause today. As long as I live I will never not take a moment to remember.
I will go back to that moment standing in my office on 19th Street watching Pat Kiernan on NY1 with a picture of the North Tower behind him and what looked like a plane hitting it. I will be in our large conference room with my colleagues watching as the second tower hit. I will walk up Sixth Avenue with three of my coworkers in a daze along with throngs of strangers. I will see the looks of all those people - resolute and staring straight ahead. The sirens will blare in my ears. The firetrucks will race by.
I will walk into that church on 23rd Street and cry. I will walk back into my apartment and for the first time not feel safe there. I will walk through Central Park, the sun casting brilliant shadows over the eerie silence. I will hear a quiet I once thought impossible in this city. I will sit in that cafe on Second Avenue with my friend and no matter how many vodkas I have I will still be sober. I will live the days and the weeks after trying to make sense until I realize it will never make sense. I will let myself feel it all again as I watch the memorial on television. Until they read the name of my friend I went to junior high and high school with, William J. Dimmling. I will cry.
This is my ritual of remembrance.
And then I will go back to my life today. I will go on. Because that is what you do. Even after days you will never forget.