What Is Left To Say?
by Lee Epstein
I have tried to write about this nearly every day for some time now. No matter how hard, or how often, or how many different angles I approach from, it has yet to work out. Here it is, plainly: I turned 25 on September 11, 2001. Hello, pay attention to me. Hey! You! It was my birthday! Did you miss it? I wouldn't doubt it. The whole world seemed to.
At this point, I usually end up feeling like Charlie Brown, who is a character I have little fondness for. The head-hanging self-defeat and not-so-subtle pleas for pity never sit well with me. But I have yet to find a way out of them. It is like a downward spiral that continues to pull me, umm, down. You see? Do you know how difficult this is? I do. Pity me, dammit. Pity me because I say so. Read my words. Hear my sadness. Pity me and be kind when you see me on the street. Treat me gently, for I am fragile. I am America. I am still standing. Don't tread on WE. What am I even saying? Why does it matter? I don't know anymore.
And it, yes, has been this easy for me to lose track of what I want to say. I think this is largely because there isn't much for me to say. I said it all. Up at the top. I turned 25 on September 11, 2001. I don't have an interesting story. I didn't lose anybody I love. I simply added another candle to the cake. This year it was an ice cream cake with chocolate crunchies. I ate it for days afterwards largely because I couldn't bring myself to eat anything else. If my birthday were going to be lost, if we were all going to die soon anyway, as was feared by a great many people (myself secretly included), at least I would have my cake and eat it, too.
There is no logic to fear, or anger. Or even disappointment. But there is a confusion that binds them all together. And months later I cannot shake this confusion. I am unable to break free from the malaise that settled upon me somewhere midmorning when rumors began trickling in, and a final horrible truth came into light. My birthday, September 11, was now and forever a national tragedy. And for every year afterwards, it will be an anniversary of death. Will there be anybody left who will want to celebrate life? Will I be so easily forgotten? This is perhaps closest to what I am trying to say. What I have intended to ask. What I hope to be answered. And now that I have said what I wanted to say, it's your turn.