10 years ago this day, I was new to the city. I did not have much to compare it to when 3rd avenue was completely empty – no taxis, no people; the litter on the street stood still that day.
On the other side of the block where I lived was a line that stretched out long, hundreds deep, from the hospital. They turned us away because there were too many people already donating blood. We sat huddled, not knowing what to do with ourselves.
The movie theater opened its doors for free when everything else was closed. As we were leaving the theater that night, they were handing out napkins to cover our mouths. The winds had shifted sending thick debris like a sand storm all the way up to 14th street. The mix of soot, sirens and anxiety made it seem like a war-zone, and maybe, we thought, it was. My friend crumpled on the sidewalk sobbing – I did not guess at what she was thinking and I did not ask, we just stayed there.
Our lives were changed forever, and then they weren’t. School was back in session. Shops reopened. Parties resumed. Sitcoms aired again. Life goes on because it has to, because what is the alternative. What do you do when disaster occurs? What do you do when you feel like there’s nothing you can do?
We gather together and we comfort each other; we grieve together and we move forward – not leaving it behind, but carrying it with us – more conscious of the present and the uncertain future.