I was quite disappointed in yesterday's New York Times coverage of the anniversary of September 11. I don't think the story needed to overshadow the victims of Hurricane Katrina or the mess that has been made of/by FEMA, however, I thought more was warranted. Despite that, there was one article I thought poignant. It was the cover story of the special section and it was about all the things that didn't happen because of the turn of events that day. A "what would have been" kind of thing for the several people interviewed for the story.
I will never forget exactly what my day was supposed to have been like. A regular work day at my office on 38th and Madison followed by dinner at my favorite West Village Chinese place -- Sammy's Noodle Shop. I was supposed to meet my mother and my aunt there. I was about 10 weeks pregnant with Zoë that day and I had hoped to stop into the Motherhood maternity store downtown on my way to dinner. Some of my clothes were getting too tight to wear, but I hadn't told anyone at work yet so I didn't want to go maternity shopping on my lunch hour. And I was sooo looking forward to Sammy's scallion pancakes! I remember flashes of actually feeling disappointed and angry about not getting to do those things and feeling like I would never be able to do them again. I felt childish and so selfish to be thinking those things at the time, but I couldn't help myself. It was something so much easier to think about. When I think about all the things that could have been, I know that I was lucky that day.
I had a similar feeling some months later when I finally visited ground zero for the first time. I had gone to see the absence of something and that was so strange. So many people lined up to look at an absence. Also to remember what was and to ponder what might have been. "What if I had been in that stairwell...?" "What if I had been on that plane...?" "What if that had been my mother...?"