12 Years Later, I’m still Fortunate.


I’ve always been short with words on this day. I feel that my words never do justice to the events of 12 years ago. When I got up this morning, I was quickly reminded of what day it was. While I’m no longer somber about this day, I always make sure I have some time to reflect on my own life.

On this day, I try not to dwell on the many wars that have taken place since or the many Arab lives that have been taken so that we, as a country, can feel better about our losses. Instead I reflect on the fact the fact that I am very fortunate to have the life that I have. I’ve mentioned that had I been any later to work on that day, who knows what would have happened. My step mother worked in that area and it just so happened she was not there that day. Two of my friends worked there as well and they both got out. Very fortune.

Yet, I did know one person, a fire fighter, who died while trying to save people. Steve Mercado was a guy that I looked up to as a kid. Someone who always took the lead in situations that no one really wanted to. His memory will always be honored and immortalized by his family and by the stickball league in the Bronx he helped maintain.

So what does all this mean to me? What is my takeaway from all of this? The one thing that I’ve noticed, and it may sound funny, silly, or maybe just unexpected, is that I can say I love you to my friends and family so much easier now than I could before 9/11. Those words have more of an impact and more of a meaning to me. This was something I never really said, especially to my male friends and relatives. Perhaps it was some form of homophobic barrier that I was not aware of but I can also say it to woman friends too without being uncomfortable or giving the wrong impression.

The point is that I realized on that day how quickly anyone of us can be snuffed out. Sure, I can talk all day about our youth being killed on the streets of Chicago, or the victims of police brutality, or teenagers with hoodies who had someone “stand their ground” but our worlds were changed forever 12 years ago. Whatever naivety we had is gone because we know what its like to be on the other end of an attack and as much as I want call bullshit on every last war we had since (as well as the one in Syria we are about to have), on this day all I can think about is how fortunate I am to even be writing this.

I have few close friends, many acquaintances, tons of former students, twitter followers, and family. Twelve years ago, when I finally left work, and stepped out on to Wall Street, I knew my life had changed and it was then that I realized I haven’t done enough in my life. Now, I’m still working on doing something and I’m just glad that I know as many people as I do. I’m very fortunate to have the friends that I have and very lucky to share my thoughts with the rest of you.

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