My favorite souvenirs are my memories. I scoop them up, everywhere I go—filing away the words, gestures, facial expressions, scents, sights, and sounds. Later, and again and again over the years, I’ll page through these memories. Their details so crystalline, they instantly transport me back.
A cloudless cornflower-blue sky is my anchor to September 11.
I remember walking down the sidewalk to work. The sun was warm on my shoulders, but there was a tinge of autumn in the air. It would likely be the last time I’d wear my magenta sleeveless blouse for the season. The same blouse I wore on my first date with Andrew. Soaking in that Crayola-like blue before stepping into my office building, I remarked to myself what a positively gorgeous day this was.
I clicked on my e-mail inbox. The Scotsman had sent a message to everyone in my small group. “THEY DID IT AGAIN. THIS TIME ITS REALLY BAD.” I clicked on the hotlink to the New York Times, not at all sure who “they” were. I hurriedly tapped the refresh button until I could get through to the webcam atop the twin towers. A swirling smoke cloud filled the screen.
My colleagues and I crowded around the small TV in the café downstairs, clenching coffee cups until they were lukewarm. Another building down. Another swirling cloud. A storm of debris raining over the streets. The Scotsman tells us about 1993. He was there. It was horrible. But it didn’t even compare.
New York. Pennsylvania. DC. Boston held its breath as its people retreated home to watch the uncertainty unfold on TV.
When I got home, there was a UPS package on my front step—one of the last to be delivered for a week as the fifty nifty (and beyond) was deemed a no-fly zone. With my new laptop, I looked up all of these unfamiliar words on the news: Al Jazeera, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden.
The next morning, the sky was that same shade of cornflower blue. And the day after that. The news footage was on repeat, too. People’s loved ones were missing. Colleen, one of my old college classmates was missing. We had traded bottles of shampoo our sophomore year. And she had that green and purple Laura Ashley comforter I had always admired . . . and eyelashes as thick and curled as a blinky baby doll.
* * *
To remember, quite literally means “to put memories back together.” Recalling what once was.
And so I do. Today it’s the candy-sweet scent of Finesse that I got in exchange for my Pantene. Which, incidentally, is also cornflower blue.
© 2010 Good Karma Housekeeping. Because I have infinite storage space for memories, old and new. (Photo by cdsessums via Creative Commons.)