Returning from dinner this evening, I turned the corner of my building right into a small flock of middle school girls. They halted and gasped mid-sentence, staring into the sky "It's the..." said one. "The 9/11 lights," another finished.
A few minutes later I found myself in line behind one of them at the corner convenience store. She bought a cigarette lighter. Still later the flock reappeared directly in front of me. One girl said loudly to the others, "don't tell my mom about lighting this fire thing because she'd -" But the speaker was cut off by another girl: "Shhh! don't talk about fire so loud today. It's 9/11!"
I wonder just what today means to them. How old were they when the towers -- which once stood about three blocks from where I encountered the girls -- came down? 6 years old? 4? They've lived the majority of their lives in a post-9/11 world. Can it mean anything like the same thing to them?
This is my fourth September 11th living in this neighborhood, in the imaginary shadow of the towers. I wasn't here when it happened, but even I can feel the atmosphere around Ground Zero, every year. It's getting easier. Slowly.
(photos are my own)