There Is No Other World

by Rachael on September 11, 2011

Through the Reagan years, I lived in terror of nuclear annihilation. There were nights I lay awake, wondering when the bombs would begin to fall. Through most of those years, I was far too young to understand anything about international relations; all that I knew was that the Soviets had big bombs and so did we. Later came perestroika, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the election of President Clinton. (Though did I really trust him on foreign policy any more than I did Reagan? Looking back, I’m not so sure.) I also grew older. But though my terror subsided, it lingered. Sometimes I wondered if it were really all that wise to live in New York City, much as I love it here. If the bombs ever fell, they would certainly fall here.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I had a dream of nuclear war. In the dream, I was packing sweaters for my escape. Would I even be able to get somewhere beyond the bombs? After I woke, and as I prepared to go to work, I kept asking myself, Why don’t I feel safe anymore? Why don’t I feel safe? Why don’t I feel safe? And so, two hours later, when I stood in Times Square (the very place I had been certain would be Ground Zero, should Y2K mayhem have broken out the year before) and read the news on a ticker — one tower fallen, the other on fire, the Pentagon on fire, the White House evacuated — it confirmed all the dread I had ever known about my world. Awake! It is so.

And yet: through that eerie, spring-like autumn, I stayed. I continued to work in lower Manhattan (for six years), moved to Brooklyn, fell in love, got married, had a child. I’m still here, and I have no thought of leaving. Where is there to go?

There were too many dead on that day; there have been too many dead since. Blessings on us all.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine September 11, 2011 at 10:14 PM

I feel very much the same way.
NY casts some kinda crazy spell on people. Live through that and stay?
Well…yeah.
Christine recently posted… The Post I Could Barely Write.

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teresa September 11, 2011 at 11:02 PM

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