It’s been a week since the attacks, and I still can’t sleep at night. Images of planes slamming into towers and people jumping desperately out of burning buildings or running through the streets screaming play over and over in my head in the dark. Even when I’m awake, the American flags I see festooned everywhere—on a balloon at the hairdressers, rippling from car antennas, hung on poles in front yards or at half mast outside fire stations—remind me constantly of the tragedy.
I don’t even live in Manhattan anymore, but I did for most of the 90s, and the city still feels like home. And my city has been scarred forever. Anytime the skyline is in view, I will feel deep grief because of the missing towers and what they represent. Forever.
Now I live in a suburb with my husband and two young children, but I shed tears for the city that has been changed forever. Not just physically. Our innocence is gone; our sense of invulnerability is gone. Something else is gone, too, though, and good riddance: the walls people built up between each other seem to have crumpled with the walls of the twin towers. That’s the bright light I see in all this. People are really coming together, in a spirit of love and charity, to help each other. People are opening their hearts in a way I’ve never seen before in New York or in my country.
I’m proud of my fellow New Yorkers, my fellow Americans, my fellow humans. We will clean up, we will rebuild, we will recover, and we will rise from these ashes stronger and more united than ever before.