Remembering 9/11 in Sweden
It feels very strange to be living in Sweden on the anniversary of September 11th. I feel like molecules are somehow missing from my body … like I’m not quite complete and it’s almost hard to breath.
If I were in the US today, especially in my home state of Connecticut, I would be surrounded by friends, family, and those who experienced the terrible events of 9/11 and the weeks afterward. There is comfort in being with those who know your grief. 9/11 was a terrible day but the days and weeks afterward were equally horrific and emotionally trying. If I were back in the US, I would be with people in the grocery store, on the street, huddled on a sidewalk cafe – all of us remembering where we were, who we lost, what we saw. We would all be recalling that beautiful blue sky day in September thirteen years ago.
Here in Sweden, I’m not quite sure how to process what I’m feeling. Somehow so removed from it all and yet somehow also so much closer and keenly aware. 9/11 was personal. I remember trips I took into the city soon afterward. Those huge buildings in a crumbled heap, still smouldering even after several months. Having been out on the streets of Manhattan, I would have to dig the dust of dead from my nostrils when I arrived back at my hotel or friend’s apartment. The stoney cement, that dust – nearly microscopic and still airborne – would gather in my pores and I would have to wash it from my face. I remember, as if it were yesterday, the millions of posters and the memorial walls, displaying photographs of those who were missing. Flowers, and candles, and flags and … so many photographs.
On that day, after the planes had struck the towers, I remember calling my best friend who lived on the Lower East Side. I had to repeatedly dial her cell phone number as telephone connections were either overburdened or failing. I was frantic. We finally were able to connected. I sat in Connecticut, she in Brooklyn at a friend’s apartment (Thank god!). Together we watched the second building fall. Her from her window. Me on the television. We cried. We were stunned silent. We watched New Yorkers, in terror and confusion, flee the streets.
I’ve had many of my new friends here in Sweden send me warm thoughts today. Lovely people, both Swedish and expats, reaching out to let me know they stand with me … they understand my heartbreak. To those of you … thank you so much. I’m very rarely homesick, but today my heart is in and with America.
I will never forget.
Writer/photographer Lisa Mikulski. Available for print or online publications and business in the Nordic region, Europe, and the U.S. Editorial, features, marketing copy, and public relations. Contact me here or at lisa @ 2sweden4love.com