I've been thinking about what I was going to write here all day. Everything I thought of sounded trite and cliched. What is there to write about 9/11 that hasn't already been written? Everybody remembers where they were when it happened. It's the one event that has defined my generation.
I'm British, and obviously I had been sad and felt awful, scared and confused when it happened. But it happened in America, somewhere I had never been, and whilst I appreciated the impact of the event on the rest of the world, I was always acutely aware that it was still something that had happened somewhere else. I was 16 and I couldn't even begin to get my head around something like that, on that scale happening to me, my town, my country.
I remember this day last year. I had arrived in America, in New York, a mere four days earlier. I was already beginning to fall in love with the city: its vibrancy, its energy and its attitude. But it wasn't home yet. I was still a tourist, and as such, standing in front of Ground Zero and reading the tributes to loved ones lost, and witnessing grown men breaking down in tears... as such, I realized that day that I was the worst kind of tourist: a tourist of peoples grief.
I had to leave, I couldn't stay, I felt dirty and ashamed. I had no right to be there, who was I to be there? The events that day had affected me in some way sure, in as much as I am a citizen of the world, but all around me was the real cost, the real pain. I couldn't even try to relate to that.
Today, I sit here writing, and trying to identify how I feel a year on. After a year of living in this city, this most beautiful city. This city that has been everything to me. This city that is home, and always will be.
Today, I went to Ground Zero again after work, and sat across the street watching the sun set.
I can't really put my finger on it, but I didn't feel like a tourist this time. I felt like I had a right to sit there, take a moment, and realize how precious this city is to me. And I can relate to that as much as, and as fiercely as any native New Yorker.
I love you, New York. Now and forever.