September 11th is my baby brother's birthday. On this day in 2001 he turned 16. This day is a difficult one for so many people. Now my brother has to share a happy day with such tragedy. That date was bizarre in our house to say the least. I had rebelliously decided I was not going to go to college that semester. My days that September consisted of nothing as I did not have a job either and didn't get one until October. On that morning I was far from the New York City in which I live now. Three hours behind in California. My dad woke me up around 8am and told me what was going on. I turned on the TV and since I had nothing to do that day I watched the coverage all day. I remember seeing people jump out of windows, the continuously looped footage of the towers falling. I remember waking up in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep and turning on the TV to find footage of family members begging for information on their missing loved ones. Even so far away in California, there was a quiet. I did go to Target that day to get out of the house and there was no one there. Everyone was glued to their TVs in disbelief.
That night we went out for dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday. We were the only ones in the restaurant and the coverage at the WTC continued on the TVs behind the bar. I felt weird going out and celebrating but for my family this date is first and foremost a day of celebration.
My first trip to New York City took place the following June. My friends and I went down to the World Trade Center site. I took photos and remember feeling guilty for it. Like I was dishonoring a sacred space. I have been to the site a handful of times since. Mostly with friends and family in from out of town. I live and work uptown so I don't have much of an occasion to be in that part of town but each time I find myself down there randomly, I pause and honor in silence.
The other day I was walking down the street, fully immersed in my own problems and drama, and I saw a woman wearing a tank top that said "Practice Kindness." That simple phrase has stuck with me ever since as I try to move past a rough summer, rifts in friendships, and all of the other personal issues that pale in comparison today. But the message seems like a good one especially in light of all that is happening in and around that site. Practice kindness.