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Nina In New York: Here We Are, Again

The 11th Anniversary Of 9/11
NYC Remembers 9/11

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

I don’t really want to write about 9/11.

I want to write about Tuesday. I want to write about this gorgeous weather or this crazy guy I encountered on the subway or Mars or some ridiculous new city policy.

Somehow, the date always manages to sneak up on me. Ever year, a tiny part of me lets myself think that it will be over and behind us, and to see the date 9/11 written will start to look like it did twelve years ago.

But it will never be normal, or just another day. And it still feels strange – somehow, wrong – to talk about normal, frivolous things today.

I feel guilty watching that new television show, or reading about real estate or a new book that’s just come out, or turning on the morning news so I can get the weather.

Is it okay to spend some time today researching upcoming travel plans? Or watching a Simpsons rerun? Or having dinner with friends and only talking about our love lives, and not this horrible thing that happened eleven years ago?

We’ve come out on the other side of the decade mark, and it would be unfair to say things haven’t changed. Osama bin Laden is dead. The memorial is open and has received millions of visitors from all over the world (with the museum close behind, one hopes). The massive project to rebuild the towers is nearing completion. Pretty soon, we’ll have a new skyline, and it won’t have a hole in it.

Photos: New York City Celebrates The Death Of Osama Bin Laden

Good things are happening. A private fund donated $80 million in scholarship money to the families of 9/11 victims. The Zadroga Act, which compensates survivors suffering from 9/11-related illnesses, is still being expanded and revised and improved to extend to more people.

Photos: Rebuilding Ground Zero

But how much distance can we ever put between ourselves and this vicious attack which befell us as a city, and as a country?

It was just one day, but the evil it carried with it was insidious. First responders who survived the attacks are still dying today from residual effects of the toxic environment into which they selflessly plunged themselves. Our world is different. It is “post-9/11.” The date marks a turning point on our collective trajectory, and we have veered off in a direction that will never again lead us back to where we were beforehand, no matter how many alternate routes we attempt.

For most of us over a certain age, there is a solid foundation of anxiety that we will never be without, though it may get buried and grow obscured over the years. Even for those who were born into this world and have never known another, it is there. And just as our parents grew up with their parents’ Depression-era anxieties, our children will be the heirs to our fears. It’s hard to say how many generations it will take to shed them.

But we press on. And we live our lives, and we read books and watch movies and talk to our friends and plan our futures and see the world and get married and have babies and allow ourselves not to think about awful things all the time. In some very small way, little by little, year by year, we reclaim this day.

It will never be without sadness, but it’s becoming more Tuesday than it ever has been.

How do you feel now that it’s been 11 years since the 9/11 terror attacks? Sound off below…