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Five years.

On September 11th, 2001, I was eighteen years old. I'd been in New York for maybe two weeks, was barely into my second week of class. That morning there'd been a fire alarm in my dorm room at six thirty a.m., and I stood out there, cold and in my pajamas, surrounded by people I didn't know. I didn't know anybody, actually; when my plane landed in NY I had no friends I knew well there and no family. My particular brand of friendliness doesn't lend itself well to group situations like the ones that formed in the first few frantic weeks on campus, when the entire fourth floor of Brittany Hall began to break into groups, a bunch of kids clinging to each other, getting fake IDs and exchanging the banalities of small talk in a desperate bid to not be alone. I walked the city, visited churches and roamed Fifth Avenue and got hopelessly lost, I went to class and tried to get to know my roommates and was constantly thirsty.

The first time I blogged was September 12th, alone in my dorm room because one roommate had gone back home to Long Island and the other had gone to the Jersey Shore with some new friends (that I didn't share). I wrote for an audience of no one but putting it out there made me feel better, even though I knew it wouldn't be read.

For awhile it seemed like that was all anybody wanted to ask me about, and all my stories are equal parts memory and words, the same practiced phrases I fell back on when people asked. In my head they're all just pictures and feelings: smoke in the sky, a candlelight vigil at dusk around the fountain in Washington Square Park, listening to the radio in my dorm room, sitting on the hardwood floor, leaning against my roommate's bed. Watching Bush make his address from inside the library, cross-legged on the cold tile. Windows closed in my room so smoke wouldn't get in. The missing person fliers that covered every spare surface, listing identifying marks (I remember a girl, Asian, pretty, worked on one of the top floors, had a tattoo of a dragon), fliers gone overnight only to spring up the next day, a riot of them over mailboxes, scaffolding, pinned to chain link fences. Everything below 14th Street was closed, and I lived on 10th. It was like a ghost town, tinted with sepia smoke, the streets deserted, no people, no cars, no noise. It was a ghost town, as much as I've ever seen one.

I think about it now and I feel weighted down. I didn't leave. I didn't lose anyone because I didn't know anyone. It was a beautiful day and I went to class, wondering about the people on the streets crowded around radios (the professor said: "We don't know what's going on," and then lectured for the full hour and fifteen minutes). I sat in the lecture hall and didn't think much of it; when we were released the crowds were larger, gathered around tables of silver jewelry and streetside booksellers, most silent, some crying, all listening to the voices on the radio. I don't remember what I did after.

I don't think about it much anymore. I didn't even realize it was today until Carrie said something. I wasn't going to blog, but I'm still here at the office. I'm not in New York anymore. The luxury is in the forgetting.

I flew to New York last week and I wasn't scared, I go to work every day and I'm not scared, I wake up in the morning and I'm not scared. That's all. That's enough.


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Vivid - well written, and interesting.

Excellent post Sara! Thank you for sharing!

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