I guess I feel like everyone else today – I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, and yet the pain and fear from that day is still so fresh, as though it all just happened. We’ve been through a lot over the years, you and I. I’ve usually been the one going through stuff, experiencing all the euphoria and depression and everything in between. I’ve loved you, left you, loved you again – you’ve always been in my heart, even if I’ve been a fickle lover.
In fact, on that day 10 years ago, we were having a bit of a renaissance together. I’d returned to you in April 2001, licking my wounds, and you helped bring me back to life. You were at once just as I remembered you, and completely changed. As always, what grabbed me first was the expectation of the unexpected – sharing a crowded, dirty, urine-smelling subway platform with someone playing the most exquisite violin, or having a stilted but smiling encounter trying to give directions to a tourist who only spoke French and thanked me with kisses on both cheeks. Getting yelled at by a stranger, having a volunteer hand me a pink carnation at the end of a race in Central Park, eating six of the most unbelievably delicious Chinese dumplings for $2. Endless, countless New York moments, big and small. You reminded me that life doesn’t just go on, it can grab you by the throat, smack some sense into you, force you to get dressed up and put on mascara, and make you go out and have a great time again, if you let it. Especially in New York.
By September I was back, really back – working again, enjoying my friends, dating a great new guy. Healing. And then on that breezy, sunny September day, those people, those evil, evil people, sent those planes into the World Trade Center before my eyes and tried to kick the stuffing out of you. They tried to make you doubt yourself and fear them, to take away that essential, take-no-prisoners New York-ness.
Everyone knows what followed – the missing-persons signs posted everywhere, the swabbing, the check points, the smell. Oh, that smell. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget any of it. I went down to the site a few days later, as it still smoldered, before everything was blocked off. A kindly cop told me which way to go to see everything without getting in the way. I saw him again half an hour later, on my way back – he opened up his arms and hugged me when he saw my stunned, tear-streaked face. Neither of us said anything, he just let me cry, then released me, patted me on the shoulder, smiled ruefully at me and went on his way.
Leaving never entered my mind. You’re mine, dammit, and I’ll be damned if anyone is going to take you away from me. Of course I stayed. Eventually the smoke stopped billowing, everyone went back to work – even the smell dissipated. Life, amazingly, went on. And as for you -- you dusted yourself off and went right on going. Everyone knows the old saw, That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You took that cliché and gave it a whole new meaning.
Now it’s 10 years later, my friend. In that time I brought the man of my dreams here from Los Angeles, and he fell in love with you instantly. We got married, and we had our baby right here. We’re raising her here, no suburbs for us. This is where we belong, in your embrace. You don’t always make it easy – but you never said you would. Like every good relationship, it takes some work, but the rewards make it so, so worth it. We wouldn’t have it any other way.