I remember. I was fresh from New York to Los Angeles, a couple months gone only. I was awoken very early by my yellow phone in that first apartment in Hollywood. The voice on the other end was my sister April saying only-I’m so happy you don’t live in New York today; turn on your TV. And there it was. Smoldering twin towers. My jaw hung open, the phone dropping from my ear. We exchanged I love you’s and hung up.
I remember I had to go to work that day in Beverly Hills, ignoring customers as I called friends in New York, what’s happening, are you okay? Have you heard from her? Have you heard from him? Please call me back. Please call me back. Why is this place open? Why am I here?
I remember I wanted to be there. I wanted to go back to my city. The thing about living in New York, however short or long a time it is, you feel as if it always belongs to you. A New Yorker once, a New Yorker forever. I earned that badge and I ain’t ever gonna give it up.
Ten years later, I remember the victims. I take my children to the local fire station, where I gently explain why we are leaving flowers. Of course, they can’t understand and look at me strangely while tears fall from under my sunglasses. We head to the park, where I watch in wonder as dozens of young children play...these children who ten years ago were years still from existing. They’re laughing, playing, fighting, eating, running...they are free. I honor the victims today; today I remember the pain and the overwhelming grief; and today, I run with my children...for we are free and we will live today, and each day I hope, with gratitude and grace for those who have been taken from us to soon.