For those of you who are just joining me on this adventure in India, I decided that this post was important enough to share on both of my blogs, rather than just on Tumblr. Just as a preface to what I'm about to say. The last couple of days have been busy and tired, which is why I'm only getting to this post now. I've taken some time to reflect on how I've felt about spending my generation's day which will live in infamy abroad. It was different.
At home, I avoid television each and every September 11th. I can't bear to watch the planes hit the towers again, or watch the towers falling to the ground. But a lot of things are different this year, which makes me see 9/11 in a different light.
First, I've now been to New York and seen the memorial. Until this year, I was a Midwestern girl who didn't have any real connection to the place where it all happened. I'd been to DC and I've seen the memorial at the Pentagon. But that pales in comparison to the lives lost in the World Trade Center towers. The names that surround the fountains... there are so many. It makes me feel such a connection with my country of birth in a way that nothing else really has. To run your fingers over the names etched in stone, to feel the grooves that represent the lives lost... it's like nothing else that I've ever experienced. It brings me to another place. It has changed me.
The second thing that I want to say in relation to the changes of this year is that it's my first year spending 9/11 outside of the United States. I'm in India. And do you know what 9/11 means in India?
Nothing. It means nothing. It was just another day.
That was hard to digest at first. It's hard to be somewhere on a day that means so much to my people and have them not care. Obviously, there are many days in India that don't mean anything to people in other countries, including ours. A little perspective is important. But I got lucky this year, in a lot of ways. I spent the night of the 10th with a group of people who were comfortable freely talking about where they were when it happened, what it felt like, what they remember. It was probably one of the most open conversations I've ever had about 9/11 and how it affected people's lives. And I was able to have that conversation at a bar in Pune, India while surrounded by coworkers and superiors. It was freeing, liberating.
It made me able to write this post.
I had no connection to New York before this year. Now I do. I didn't know anyone who was an almost, like so many stories that you hear about 9/11 (I was almost in the WTC that day, I was almost on one of those flights). Now I do. I had never stood where those buildings used to stand, never seen the skyline that is so poignantly devoid of a major landmark, never seen the hustle and bustle that is the financial district of New York City. Now I have. It means something different this year, for so many reasons.
And now I'll definitely #neverforget.