I have always been one who prefers to deal with negative emotions by assiduously not focusing on them, by trying to keep them buried where I need not look at them. This is very Scandinavian, and my upbringing, despite my Italian-American Dad, was very much in the mode of my Norwegian-descended Mom and Grandmother. If I was hurt and came in crying, they would tell me to “suffer in silence.” Many will say that this is an unhealthy way to deal with trauma, but the Scandinavian countries have very high life expectancies, so maybe they are onto something. I am also an Adult Child of an Alcoholic Parent, and believe me, suffering in silence can be a real survival skill. It is no surprise that for years I held Mr. Spock as my chief role model. Whatevs, as the kids say; the reflex to swallow negative emotions is deeply internalized by now. It will do what it will do.
I have always been one who prefers to deal with negative emotions by assiduously not focusing on them
Twenty years and one seemingly endless nightmare pandemic later, I find that I am profoundly weary of 9/11. Dragging ourselves through that slough of emotional despair seems almost fetishistic, but not one of the fun ones. It’s worse on the anniversaries that end in five and zero, but on any September 11th, I find myself dreading the inevitable reprise of exploding planes and fluttering office paper. I can’t look away fast enough. For those who lost friends or family that day, it must be an unimaginable hell.
But of course, no one can fully escape the drumbeat.
On 9/11/02, my wife and I had a penthouse room (free upgrade!) in a very tall hotel in downtown Chicago. Near sunset, I stood looking west out the floor-to-ceiling windows. Gina had just left to do some shopping. Against a lurid orange sky I watched a jetliner rise out of O’Hare, bank east and fly straight towards me at eye level. With great calm I bolted and quickly descended the emergency stairs, sixty or so stories, to the lobby and onto the street.
On 9/11/11, while being emotionally assaulted by the same lurid images of a decade ago despite my efforts to neither see nor hear, I finally realized what exactly the media was peddling; snuff porn.
On 9/11/21, my wife and I and two dear friends had an extra day in Paris because Alan, who organized the trip, refuses to fly on 9/11, just in case someone out there in terrorland has a particular thing about anniversaries.
In America, 9/11 finds you.
A lot of things have happened in my life, but now I am mainly in it for Gina and the mountain biking.