It’s organic, the way it happens. All it takes is one tweet, one facebook post, one person saying “I remember when…”, and then there’s a deluge, all of us desperate to share our stories, share things we’ve written, memories we have. It’s too much to take in on our own, even eleven years later, so we share our experiences because it’s a catharsis. Yes, it’s real, yes, it happened. There was a before; now there is an after.
It’s one of those things. Everyone remembers where they were on that day, how they found out, what their thoughts were. It’s hard, now, to remember that there was ever a before. As millennials our lives have been marked by this the way our grandparents’ (or, for some, great-grandparents’) lives were marked by Pearl Harbor. Whatever else divides us—politics, tastes in music, preferences of sports teams—this one event will always unite us.
We don’t have much to give the world right now, not in terms of income or politics in a world where Citizens United can determine elections, so we give ourselves. On Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr, we share our lives. We can know more about someone who lives 3000 miles away from us than our next-door neighbor; we can be connected to the world even when it’s 4 AM and you live so far rural you can see the stars overhead as though light pollution was nothing but a myth.
We share our experiences of this day because this is how we remember, as though we are a community bound together by nothing but our oral tradition. We know some day we’ll be the last ones left who can remember, that the burden of passing on history to our grandchildren will be a heavy one for us because we remember what it was to see those buildings come down, to see the adults in our lives rendered speechless and reduced to tears, to know that our lives would be changed, but not how.
You would think we’d flee from this scene of horror but that’s not the case. We still come to this City in droves, migrating inwards because we have an unshakable desire to be at the center of the world because how can you change it otherwise? We go to Bleeker Heights and Blondie’s, we live in Williamsburg and Washington Heights, we pour our souls into baseball and basketball, we love this place so much that we’ll find a 500 sq ft studio and call it a mansion.
The thing is, we have something the terrorists never did—we have life, we have love, we have laughter, and as long as we have those things we know we’ll be all right. We share our experiences because this is how you create life, how stories shape the world and our understanding of it, but we still come back to this place because New York is our castle and we can make it our home with the sound of our music.