Why I don’t go out on Sept. 11
By Suzanne Bronson
There was a trend as we approached this 10th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11. People have been asking, “Where were you when you first heard?”
Allow me to answer that question with this one: “What did you do on this date last year? The year before? Eight years ago?”
Of course, I can tell you where I was when I first heard, but I can also tell you exactly what I do every year on Sept. 11. Nothing. I do nothing but hold the day in a silent reverence. I also plan ahead so there is no last minute trip to the grocery store for a gallon of milk or loaf of bread. While the calendar calls it “Patriot Day,” I have a day of reflection.
I spent most of my life in New York, but now I live some 2,000 miles away in Grand Junction. So many people in other parts of our country treat this date like any other. Perhaps that is due to the physical and emotional distance from Manhattan. But for every invitation that I receive, I just politely say (in my still-present New York accent), “I don’t go out on that day.”
About five years ago, I received an invitation to dinner and decided to accept. I never should have gone. The entire evening did not go well. The restaurant turned out to be a horrid little place, but my mind was revisiting earlier emotions and images. I couldn’t get away from the remembrance of the events, along with the feelings of sadness, helplessness, anger and remorse. I was far from pleasant company with all this on my mind, and I will never attempt to go out again.
Now I’m going to see some web, Facebook, and Twitter posts as people acknowledge this day in terms of themselves. I cannot speak for the victim’s families, but allow me to say I couldn’t care less if you were eating your corn flakes, if you were on your usual commute to work or if someone called and told you to turn on the TV. I honestly do not care and neither should you.
To set aside this day not only reminds me of the people I lost, but reminds me of something else: It could have been any one of us. Any one of us could have been flying on a business trip or vacation, been at work in our office buildings, or simply walking down a street. The terrorists could have struck anywhere in America and shattered our own families and home lives.
There is one overwhelming feeling I cannot fight. It has to do with being an administrative assistant for so many years. There are unwritten laws between admins and a language of our own, which may include never using the word “secretary.”
There is a process of hating your boss when feeling like his mother/wife/kindergarten teacher and then feeling a sense of pride at the end of a task when he and the company do well. You were not only part of it, you made it possible by every minutiae, every reminder.
Part of those unwritten administrative-assistant laws is that we gladly help each other more than we would any other employee. One good admin always knows another with only a one-degree separation by phone or fax.
I can’t help but feel a sense of loss for all the administrative assistants and the people who depended on them who died that day. Because they were just people, just average working Joes — faceless, nameless people trying to make a life for their loved ones.
Remember the day, but remember it as a day outside of yourself, when we all felt like New Yorkers, all felt like office workers and average people catching airplanes. Remember how it brought family and friends together to appreciate each other. Remember how every house, nearly every car, had a flag in solidarity. Remember that we are all hard-working Americans and, despite every bad patch and fault this country endures, we still are.
Suzanne Bronson author of two books of poetry. She is a native of Long Island, New York and has lived in Grand Junction six years.