9.11

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I hate September 11.

There have been bad days in my life. Tragic days. The day my grandmother died, and I was first to arrive at her apartment. The day I learned my father had a brain tumor. The day, somewhat recently, when my wife’s wonderful Aunt Barbara passed suddenly.

Nothing rivals September 11.

I live in California, but I’m a New Yorker, and will always be a New Yorker. I’m a guy who talks with his hands; who likes a little grease dripping off the tip of his slide of pizza; who can differentiate a Hot and Crusty from an H&H bagel. I’m loud and obnoxious and opinionated and Jewish and liberal and occasionally hot headed. Again, I’m a New Yorker.

September 11 is my bad day because I was there, driving through the city when the planes hit. I looked up and saw the burning hole in the first tower, and spent the following days staring at an endless stream of flyers asking whether we’d seen people we would never see. I smelled the rubble, cried the tears, woke up screaming from dreams that involved some sort of falling and some sort of fire. I would gaze up where the Towers stood and wonder, “How can they not be there? How is that possible?” I wandered the city, looking for something I could not find.

When I think of September 11, I think of the horror of the moment. But, really, I think of what changed. There are dates that never took place, hook ups that never hooked up, marriages never consummated, children never born. Many of us walk the earth, never knowing people we were destined to know. That’s some haunting shit, and it’s the heartbreaking legacy of a day when 2,996 died.

I hate September 11.

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