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Counting to Ten

I remember getting caught in a rainstorm on the Brooklyn Bridge the weekend before 9/11. I was on my way back to Park Slope from a shopping trip to Newark, New Jersey, for Portuguese pastries. I got off the PATH train at the World Trade Center and decided to walk the rest of the way home. I huddled on the wooden walkway next to one of the bridge towers and watched the clouds race by the trade center while I waited for the rain to pass. The sky was a moody pink, not unlike the view from the towers’ skydeck in the photo atop this post. That’s the last time I remember seeing the World Trade Center, and it’s a memory I cherish.

In the past ten years since 9/11, I’ve watched almost no graphic news coverage from that day. Remembering the cloud of acrid smoke that stretched from Lower Manhattan to the horizon is enough of a memory for me. While much of the world revels this weekend in sensationalistic headlines like, “Can you look at the falling man photo now?” and “What if they had Twitter and Facebook on 9/11?”, I prefer to think no one who was in New York or D.C. when the events occurred could ever be less than appalled at reading the articles below such titles. I suppose those who weren’t there will always wonder what it was really like–never knowing how lucky they are for never really being able to know.

Ten years later, my life back then seems almost unrecognizable to me. That day on the bridge, I was a native and lifelong New Yorker, an urban planner, a Lusophile, a recovering Christian, a very angry person, and rather aimless about it all. To the older but wiser, blogging Jewish Chicagoan that I’ve become, about the only thing that still resonates for me is the sense of loss. It’s still there. It always will be, and life goes on. Life has to, because that’s what life does.

In 2006, I blogged about my personal 9/11 story. Last year, I told my 9/11 story to StoryCorps. This year, there’s not much more to say. Other than that this weekend, I miss and honor the city that I knew. And pray for peace.

May the one who makes peace in the heavens make peace for us, for all Israel and all who inhabit the earth…

Oseh shalom bim’romav,
hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu.

v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol yoshvei teivel,


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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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4 replies

  1. Michael, thanks for sharing. At services on Friday my Rabbi also led us in Oseh Shalom Bimromav (like every Shabbat), this time pointing out that it was especially relevant considering 9/11. It is hard to read those words without singing the melody in my head and having a bit of an emotional moment, and probably from now on remembering the Towers as the once stood. A poignant end to the post–thanks.

    1. You’re welcome. At my synagogue, we didn’t talk about 9/11. I was going to bring it up–but in the end, I simply stood and said the mourner’s kaddish and marked the anniversary without fanfare. It felt ok that way.

      What felt even better was spending the whole day of 9/11 at Six Flags Great America. Smiling all day on that day was a great change–and one I think I’ll make a habit.

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