Thirteen Years

On Rosh Hashana 2001, the shofar reminded me only of sirens.

In early October 2001,  at the Barnard open house, the representative asked how many students were afraid to come to school in New York. A few hands went up. Then she asked how many parents were afraid to send their daughters. All along the back, where the parents were standing, hands went up.

That weekend, we went to Ground Zero. Stood silently looking across the rubble still smoking. Even after a shower, my hair smelled like smoke.

Five years later, I interviewed people who had been at Columbia that day, a professor of terrorism who turned on the television and thought for a moment the image of the burning tower was a bad movie, student photographers who walked the length of Manhattan, a student who had interned at Lehman Brothers at the World Trade Center that summer. His hand shook as he passed his I.D. across the table to me. Five years later, the card, with a World Trade Center icon, was still in his wallet. We talked in early September sitting outside, a day just like the one he was remembering.

The high school auditorium with the televisions showing the falling towers and projecting news broadcasters who sounded as confused and scared as us, feels worlds away and like I was there yesterday.

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