Saturday, September 3, 2011

Caryl remembers: 9/11

Ten years ago next Sunday, I boarded a jet scheduled to leave JFK airport at 7A.M. for Atlanta where, as the editor of Real Simple, I was giving a speech to the magazine's advertisers. It was just a turnaround--I'd be home that evening so I had no luggage. I was accompanied by the director of publicity--a working mother who was leaving her infant daughter behind in the city for the first time. We made it there but we didn't make it back for five days, and we returned to a city and a nation that would never be the same. As one of my close friends and a writer for the magazine said at the time: "The new frontier is vulnerability." Here is the editor's note I wrote for Real Simple a decade ago following the attack on America.

September 11, 2001, marked my 19th anniversary. We had our wedding reception in the loft we had just purchased in a newly gentrifying neighborhood called Tribeca. The loft had a stunning view of the lower-Manhattan skyline: the gilded angel atop City Hall, the ornate scallops of the Woolworth Building, the simple strength of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

My daughters grew up in the shadows of those buildings, attending neighborhood schools, playing soccer and baseball on the Battery Park field. In 1993, when a parking garage below the towers was bombed, I raced to P.S. 234 to retrieve my daughter Annie, then in kindergarten. One halloween several years ago, stumped for a costume, my husband and I took two empty refrigerator cartons, painted some windows, punched out eyeholes, stuck an antenna atop his box, and proudly marched with the kids in the local parade as the World Trade Center. Last June my older daughter, Catherine, celestial in a white dotted-swiss dress, attended her high school prom at Windows on the World, on the 106th floor.

The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the newspapers said, because it was a symbol of American capitalism. It was a personal symbol for me. On September 11, at 8:45 A.M. Eastern time, I was aboard a Delta jet flying to Atlanta to give a speech for Real Simple. Annie was attending her world-history class at Berkeley Carroll, her new high school in Brooklyn. Catherine, a freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles, was fast asleep in her dorm room.

I mourn the loss of all the lives taken in the World Trade Center tragedy--and I mourn the life I lost as well. When I close my eyes, I can still see the Twin Towers. And when I look at my two teenage daughters, strong and tall, I strain to picture their future.

My daughter just posted her remembrances of 9/11 in a video on iVillage where she is an Associate Editor.  Her future has become clearer.  

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