We're a moody lot, we authors. I think it comes from being creative types, perhaps, but I have noticed that we tend to swing on the pendulum of extremes as if we intend to experience the full scope of human emotion in each and every day, maybe so we can write it realistically.
That said, I'm always tangled on September tenth.
On one hand, tomorrow is my birthday. I'm a lucky girl and I'm surrounded by folks who love me and try to make that day special for me.
On the other hand, I'm terrified of what might happen. Of the echo from the past that tainted this day and will always leave me thinking things like, "Look, the sky is blue on my birthday again. That isn't a good sign. Oh, dear, look the weather is seasonally warm and comfortable...I'm tempted to leave the windows open so the sunshine and breeze wafts in, but..."
I'm terrified to enjoy that day again because bad things happened. I know, that's the goal of terrorism. And being afraid means you're letting them win--I get it. I get that I should reclaim the day and all that stuff I might even agree with on a better day.
However for those of you who are new to me or haven't read it before, here's a little story...
The birth of my second child was complicated. He got stuck, hung up inside, and due to that neither of us was in good shape when he emerged to this world.
For that reason, they advised I not have more children. The thought was that my heart, already not in the best shape and further taxed by that delivery, might not hold up. I had my youngest anyway--born August 23rd, 2001. So, when the sun rose on 9/11/2001, I officially lived to see a birthday I'd been advised I might not see.
To say I was in a pretty good mood? Yeah, that's an understatement. My three kids and I woke up and laughed and I sang to them. I got them breakfast and opened the sliding glass door on my low income apartment to let the sun and breeze shine in. It was a beautiful day--the perfect day--and the blue skies and brilliant end of summer sun seemed to smile down on me, sharing my glee.
My mother called--I thought to wish me happy birthday. Instead, she asked if I was watching TV. I glanced at the TV (Rugrats, I remember still) and told her we sure were.
She said to turn on the news. Asked me if I'd seen what happened.
I asked which channel.
Her words ring in my ears still, clear as when she spoke them. "Doesn't matter."
So, I watched the second plane hit. I saw both towers fall. And from that moment on, I see sunshine on my birthday as what it is--a warning. That perfect can burn and flitter like the flotsam of the lives it represents as it drifts to lay in a pile of rubble.
My youngest's grandpa was there, in New York. I have family in Pennsylvania, too. The day stayed filled with fear and my planned escape to Canada was thwarted by border closings. That night, I didn't feel safe, for the first time, in my tiny project apartment. I realized for perhaps the first time since being on my own what poor protection I offered my kids and I was scared to sleep.
A friend came by, offering the only gift I'd get for that monumental birthday. He brought me a six pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade, since he knew I wouldn't likely sleep if I didn't drink something a bit harder than koolaid. He slept on one of my small, second-hand couches, I on the other--the tv tuned to the news as the night wore on and dawn of September 12th lit the sky.
The weather is stunning this September and it has been an amazing year so far for me and mine. And yet I'm both happy and terrified of my birthday. The wonderful weather we've been having, the clear blue skies--they're all a reminder that everything can change in a second.
That everything I assume is good and right in this world can crash down and I won't be able to stop it.
So if you know me in the real world and I don't seem properly excited or festive when you see me, even if you're giving me a wonderful gift or whatever? I'm sorry. It isn't you and I love you dearly. Thanks so much.
It is me. And the sunshine. And the weather. And old fears, echoes from the past, and a niggling voice in my head that warns me from being too happy.
Well, this is a morbid post. Sorry, I'll try to bring you more snark soon. For today, my sincerest condolences to any who lost loved ones thirteen years ago tomorrow.