The Garden in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan Island
I had a few dreams growing up. I wanted to write a novel, I wanted to visit Paris and I wanted to live in New York. If I had any thoughts of fame, those thoughts were limited to literary fame. I never dreamed of being an actress or singer, the ways in which most women became famous when I was growing up. I certainly never saw myself as part of a defining moment in history. Never.
On September 11, 2001 I got up, got dressed, drank coffee and voted in the primary election held that day. Then I walked to the subway to take the train to work six blocks south of the World Trade Center. My thoughts were on a meeting about our Division's budget scheduled for 10:00 a.m. The train I was riding stopped north of the World Trade Center. No trains on that line were going south. Two women on the platform said that a plane had hit the Trade Center. I, like, millions of others that day thought it was a small plane, an accident. I was focused on my meeting and switched to the other line that ran downtown.
I emerged from the subway at Wall Street and William Street, a very familiar corner. The scene that greeted me was not familiar. I looked west and saw Trinity Church. The sky behind the church was filled with paper. A million pieces of paper filled the sky, blown out of the World Trade Center. I ran down the street to my office and in those moments my life became part of history.
With that moment and that decision my life passed from the personal to the historical and back to the personal and September 11 became my story, as it is still, fifteen years later. Where once it was my shoes walking on the sidewalks filled with ash, there are now plaques. Where once there were barriers and debris, there is construction and buildings rise. Where once the air was filled only with death and sorrow, there are now, as well, moments of light and air.
Though the day is a day of history and remembrance, it is still my day of memory. The sorrow and the memories always remain, always. But mercifully and gratefully, they are not my first thoughts every morning, as they were for so many mornings. Fifteen years ago today that thought was incomprehensible. I will always mourn and I will never forget the thousands who went out on a beautiful late summer morning and never came home to their families and friends. But fifteen years later I am grateful for the slivers of light that slowly pierced the darkness of mourning and memory.