A Memory of 9/11/2001

For one month after September 11th, 2001, I walked around my Greenwich Village Streets with the tinge of metal smoke in my ears and eyes. Pedestrians around me wore cloths on their faces, and others sported clunky gasmasks. I felt comparably unconcerned. I was juggling with my age: thirteen.
The tragedy occurred on the second day of my eighth grade academic year. Sitting in Spanish class, we fidgeted and buzzed in the ending wisps of summer and admired each other’s graceful sun kissed limbs. Eighth grade: a year of self-absorption.
The news did not strike me as a drastic issue for the first five hours. Nobody knew what had really happened. People gossiped and theorized, but no certain conclusions surfaced for twenty-four hours.
My mother had been home that morning. When she heard the boom from our open living room window, she took out her sharp-lens camera and documented what her eyes did not believe.
She did not show me her photographs until 2006—the year I graduated high school.
My friends that lived below Canal Street had to evacuate their homes. I wondered where they would go, but asking them never felt appropriate.
One Saturday morning, a week and eleven days after the disaster, I left my house for a slice of pizza. The humidity locked a concentrated amount of toxic fumes in the atmospheric layer coating Manhattan’s sidewalks. My nose felt invaded and the city streets looked different. My neighborhood, at one time a source of comfort and familiarity, struck me as unsafe and foreign.
Three out of four pizza places on my street were closed for the day. So I entered the fourth. A quiet handful of people sat on cushioned red stools, each one eating alone. A delivery boy wiped his sweaty brow and devoured two slices of sausage pizza. I looked at a woman, reading a newspaper, who trembled at the wrists as she rose her folded cheese slice to her tongue. I felt nauseous, teary from smoke, and stung with weakness.
I left and returned home, and began to process the aftermath of September 11th, 2001.

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