September 11, 2021

I didn’t lose anyone on 9/11.

I had finished at NYU and already left the city … when? I don’t even remember when I left New York. Two years prior? As soon as I met my graduation requirements, I left. Not because I didn’t love New York. But because I loved my California home more. I remember frantic packing and not even saying goodbye to some friends. But that’s another story for another time.

So on 9/11, I was back in the San Fernando Valley driving to a job I had barely started as a principal’s assistant. Whatever hosts on whatever morning music station I was listening to stopped mid-banter to give a perplexed report about one tower on fire. And then, the horrid realization of the plane flying into the other tower. And then, collapse.

I pulled over. I called my dad frantically. My mom was in Singapore. I said, “Dad, did you turn on the news! Is mom okay?”

I didn’t know what was going on. Everywhere was danger. He was calm. He was still sleeping.

As more news came about, I was numb at work, worrying about the friends I had left behind. Remembering. Midnight walks from the dorm to the World Trade Center, when we laughed at nothing and felt so daring and alive. Going with my first boyfriend who was visiting from the West Coast to the top of WTC because he wanted to. (I don’t like paying money to go to tops of buildings. I don’t see the point.)

Later, I confirmed I hadn’t lost anyone on 9/11. All friends accounted for. (And my mom was perfectly safe in Singapore and barely knew about what happened.)

But I lost my city. The New York I knew. My home for only three years in real time, but a lifetime in my heart. It was where I did all my growing up. That New York was hurt and gone. I grieved.

And then, on October 27, 2001, I lost my dad. Sudden. One day he had a cough. Two weeks later he was gone.

Two of the deepest sorrows of my life, intertwined.

Twenty years.

Wow.

Scattered

Always grabbing for pieces of myself

Forgetting how I fit

Stuffing in and peeking out

I am scattered

Wilted most days

Held in place by my Morgan’s hug

Lifted up by Alexis’ laugh

Wishing I was more for them

Less scattered

As vibrant as their shimmers

My sweet girls

Stuck to me

Stuck with me

Keeping me whole

Most days.