For the first time that I can remember -- and I admit that I don't remember each and every one in the past eight years -- Sept. 11 is cold, gray and rainy. That morning eight years ago, as I've written before, was clear and crisp, a brilliant blue-sky day marking the handoff of summer to fall, the sun still warm enough to be felt on bare arms but the air a touch cooler, so that wearing jeans feels just right. Many of the anniversaries since have amazingly featured the same weather, including the day in 2006 where the sky seemed to be the same deep blue and the air the same degree of Fahrenheit.
Not today, though. In fact, until I came downstairs this morning and logged onto Facebook and saw a few status updates, I'd forgotten what today's date was. Even though I saw the Tribute in Light from Hoboken last night, a long, deep sleep (and some pretty out-there dreams) had temporarily wiped my mind clear of the passage of time. And what a long time eight years is. It's the difference between middle school and senior year of college (or being a high-school freshman and a first-year employee). It's also the time passed from birth to third grade, the age of the students that Amanda, the sister of my friend Nate, is teaching in Hoboken. At dinner last night, before we turned our attention to Titans-Steelers, she was telling us of today's birthday party in the classroom. I asked how old the kids were, and when she said 8, I replied, "So the one with the birthday tomorrow was born on Sept. 11, 2001." She replied, "Yep. They were all born in 2001, so they don't know what it was like back then."
Eight years down the road, and Ground Zero continues to be a construction site like so many others in New York -- an open pit. I haven't been there since last summer, but there's a little bit of progress to be seen, in the form of the first steel beams for the new tower. But as we get further away from that date, the lack of a rebirth and a memorial becomes more noticeable. The Pentagon and Western Pennsylvania have their memorials, and though they were constructed on the lawn of a federal compound and in a rolling field and therefore didn't have the multiple layers of permits, approvals and government oversight to maneuver through, you'd think that by now we'd at least have a target date for the World Trade Center's rebirth.
Someday I hope to look out over Lower Manhattan from the office or the High Line or Hoboken and not have to imagine the magnificent view of the Twin Towers rising above the cluster of buildings at the tip of Manhattan. The Freedom Tower or whatever ends up being there will stand tall, providing a suitable substitute to allow my mind's eye to picture the two square towers standing side-by-side as I remember them.