In case you don’t know, I was at the World Trade Center when it fell. Here is the piece I wrote for Time magazine on that day.
Here is an archive of the posts I’ve written every year on 9/11.
Here are my two biggest problems today:
1. Kids. Both my sons slimed out of doing chores two days in a row and I have read way too many times that kids who grow up with chores are way more resilient than kids who don’t grow up with chores. And I really really want to be a good mom because I have to work so hard at not duplicating my own childhood.
2. Fat. I have gained 30 pounds since I started driving 20 hours a week for my son’s cello lessons. I was thin before this started, and I am tall, but still, gaining 30 pounds is really terrifying. I have to wake up every day and tell myself I can lose it. Or else I won’t get out of bed.
So, it’s fifteen years after 9/11 and I’m going to tell you the secret to all of life: 9/11 didn’t change me. I’m back to my regular self. I am worrying that I can’t extract myself from my childhood and I’m worrying that I’m fat.
There is a lot of research about how catastrophes don’t really change who we are. Like if you lose a limb you will be just as happy after that as you were before you lost the limb. We have a happiness set point we revert back to. I used to think it’s incredible. Now I think it’s consoling.
I want to be me. I don’t want to be someone who can be completely changed by a few hours. Or minutes, if you are just counting the moments when I thought I would definitely die.
There are little things, maybe, that have changed. Like, maybe I focus on so much on resilience because it was a huge focus in the group therapy sessions after 9/11. But really my whole life has been about resilience – finding it inside myself.
And thank goodness, because I know now, that I can rely on it to get me through anything. The events of 9/11 didn’t change me, but they helped me to know I have the resilience I’ll need to get me through life.
Last week a friend’s son interviewed me about 9/11 for a school project. At the end of the interview he said, “Cool. Thank you so much. I’m going to have the best report of anyone!”
And I said, “Great! I hope yours is the best!”
And that’s how I know how well I’ve bounced back. Fifteen years later I want to be the best school report, and the best mom, and the most thin. Not much has changed since I was seventeen years old.