When I think of 2001 before September 11, I think of it as a good year. In September 2001, I was in France visiting my
family, taking advantage of the three-week September break of the French Institute in New York, where I was working then. My girls had been in France with their mom, and, as agreed in the divorce agreement just finalized in Court, I had taken them to my older sister’s home in Dijon for the first time (and the last, I would discover); Three or four unforgettable days. Then I brought the girls back to Paris and at the very beginning of September, they were back to New York.
For me, September 11 2011 starts with September 9. I was driving on the highway from Paris to Lille, where my younger sister lives with her family. I heard then on the radio that Massoud had been assassinated. I remember to have felt a really bad vibe in one of one of these boring highway rest areas where I had stopped.
On September 11, as I came back with my sister to her home from a nice walk in Lille, the first thing I heard is the nanny of my sisters’ children, telling us that “two towers had been attacked in the U.S.” I was at first rather dismissive. She did not know the U.S. and the only two towers in the U.S. that I knew where in New York. Unthinkable. Soon we got scotched to the images of the Twin Towers falling down.
Like everybody with a family in the U.S., I frantically tried to place a call to the U.S. During the long hours I waited for the call to go trough, I was trying to reassure myself with seemingly rational facts: my girls were living on the Upper West side, far from ground zero. Yet I kept seeing them wandering on a bridge like thousands of New Yorkers. My ex-wife might have resumed her work in New Jersey, but she was taking the New Jersey Transit, not the Path Train. Even if she had gone to work this day, she was likely to be fine. My girlfriend however had to punch at 10:00 am in the World Trade Center where she was working for the Wall Street Journal Americas. She indeed saw the second tower collapse on her way to work. Around midnight (French time), I was able to reach my ex-wife. First courteous exchange in a long time.
I am one of some lucky New Yorkers who has not lost anybody in September 11. Yet, after a long trial in family court gone by, and having not seen my girls for six years, I see no reason to rejoice. The media trumpeted a victory for justice when Bin Laden was shot like a dog in Pakistan. After two wrong wars in Irak and in Afghanistan, this is pathetic. There was only one acceptable outcome of the so-called war on terrorism: Bin Laden alive and on trial for crimes against humanity, in New York, in La Hague (Holland, where the International Court of Justice is located) or wherever; whatever the cost; to give a real shot at getting justice straight and thus show that Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization, not us.