I'm slowly getting back into a routine--9/11 was a lost day for me in many respects. It was raining and somehow that made the anniversary seem farther away and more difficult to process. Crisp fall days now are double-edged for me: they remind me both of when I first lived in New York, and of falling in love with James--one of the happiest times of my life--and now they also remind me of my first day of work at the Whitney Museum, about how shortly after I arrived my boss told me she saw a plane hit the World Trade Center, about how at first we thought it was an accident, and then came to realize it wasn't.
Crisp fall days remind me of trying to reach James on the phone and hearing a woman's recorded voice saying all lines were busy; I dialed over and over, wondering if he was at work in Chelsea or still painting bookshelves in the apartment we were in the midst of renovating. I finally got through to my parents and in-laws and they were the ones who relayed to me that James was safe. I remember crying in the bathroom, in confusion, and eventually walking home with throngs of people, all heading to the bridge. I'll never forget seeing James on the other side, waiting for me, and how a woman in front of the Salvation Army had a table with glasses of water for people wandering home. Financial papers drifted down on our patio, and the trail of smoke overhead was a constant reminder of what had happened. For a while I saved those papers, and then I burned them, not knowing why I kept them or what to do with them when they felt less like a memento and more like a morbid reminder. Those are my memories of eight years ago, and I was so lucky to not have known anyone, but I still ache for the people who did, and for the near misses.
So on Friday--that rainy, chilly day in New Jersey--I basically went back to bed and felt empty and tired. I had a wonderful evening out the night before with photographer friends Mark Menjivar, Kurt Tong and Susan Worsham at the Simon Roberts opening at Klompching, complete with a great dinner after, and went from a huge high to a state of feeling emptied out because of the clash of happiness and numbness I experienced when I woke up on the 11th. Every year it feels duller and less real, and further away emotionally. Sometimes it's better to just sleep it off.
In the afternoon the girls and I curled up on the couch and watched TV, and I ignored the disarray of the house and felt grateful, as always, for having my family close.