It’s been more than five years since I lived on the East Coast, but I still consider it to be my home. Does that make sense? If not, that’s OK. But it’s something that anyone who reads this needs to know if my point is to make any.
The list of reasons for why I still hold such affection for New England is not the most extensive one, but neither is it insignificant. Nevertheless there are, in truth, more than a few things about the birthplace of America that I don’t much care for.
People can indeed be less friendly than in other parts of the country, to a notable extent. It gets bitterly cold, even unbearably so, at times. There’s a general air of whatever-the-cost academic and professional competitiveness that everyone is simultaneously victim of and party to.
But it’s also achingly beautiful, New England is. Make no mistake, the iconic changing of the seasons is just as breathtaking as you’ve heard it to be; that shit is magnificent to behold. And there’s something about the sheer amount of history living and breathing there that is too meaningful and inspiring to overlook. The competition is a byproduct of most people’s ambition and intellect.
And, well, fuck it. Someone had to start this country.
There’s a special place in my heart and mind for autumn in the Northeast, particularly September. It was during this month that a variety of very important and influential things happened in my time. Every September marked the beginning of the school year (but more importantly, the football season). My sister’s birthday is later in the month. Hell, I even experienced my first heartbreak just in time for classes to start.
Then, of course, there was 9/11.
Sorry to sneak up on you like that, if you didn’t see it coming. I know it’s not an especially breezy or lighthearted subject to hear, read, even think about.
It is, however, a very important one — especially for people from the Northeast. And that’s exactly what I’m getting at. I think we can all agree that 9/11 was a deeply and unprecedentedly traumatic experience for any American that can remember it (and even for those who can’t, I imagine it’s still very dark and unsettling), but it carries a unique and profound meaning for those who lived only just upwind from the ashes left in the destruction’s wake.
And I don’t feel as though we’ve really recovered from it yet. I mean, yes, we’ve gotten our revenge. The soulless cretin chiefly responsible is no more. We’re back on top (sort of). But for whatever reason, something still doesn’t feel quite right. That said, I don’t even know that we should [recover]. It might just be that, for everyone who bore witness to that unforgettable newscast, something will never feel quite right this time of year.
We live in a new era as a result of that fateful Tuesday in September, for good or ill. The good being a different and tangibly stronger sense of national camaraderie, of patriotism. The ill being so hauntingly obvious as to induce guilt for even considering to recount it.
I guess it remains a bit weird to me how people take September 11th differently in different parts of the country, even though it makes sense that not everyone was affected by it in exactly the same way. There’s something to be said for moving on, growing stronger, more resilient. And while it feels almost perverse to be so open about how disturbing it was, is, despite not having lost anyone personally, I still feel a need to, in deference, honor — in memoriam.