I wont’ be forgetting that day any time soon, or the weeks and months afterwards when this city was dealt a harsh blow. That fall, I wrote a lot about it – many little tidbits about New York life that appeared in the NYPress, some of them blasts against the New York Times Style section, which was running rampant with truly awful stories, basically media vampires trying to portray themselves as people with souls. Not to stand in judgment – but I can smell bullshit a mile away. And many of the stories at that time reeked of it, totally lacking in sincerity or gravity, people who didn't care about anything suggesting the exact opposite.
Between all that bullshit, a lot of real stuff was going on, and it was interesting. One piece I wrote at that time really stands out – The Portraits of Grief Experiment in Leisuresuit.net. If you follow the link, the story explains itself. I also wrote a basic, day-to-day diary of what life was like in the immediate aftermath, but can’t seem to track it down online – email me if you want a PDF copy. Another piece that stands out was a paragraph I did for the NYPress, describing the effect of being downtown for the first time since that happened – probably late October of 2001. I went down to J&R Music World, just to go more than anything, as it was literally in the shadow of the old World Trade Center towers. And seeing those huge arc lights in use at that time to clear out the pit. The sun had just gone down, the streets were empty and still stank with that acrid smell from that day. And I recalled how seeing those lights reminded me of when my brother and I went to high-school football games back home in near-by towns, often the only way to find the stadium was to look in the night sky as we drove around and try to find the same kind of arc lights being used for demolition in the pit.
What a horrible time that was. But I learned a lot after that, especially after Dad passed on in the winter of 2004. And that’s we all got shit to deal with, and his passing means more to me than all this lousy 9/11 stuff. I didn’t know it at that time, or have any frame of reference to compare. But when you lose a family member, whatever the circumstance, that’s going to register far more harshly than an event like 9/11, assuming you lost no one that day. Of course, millions of people all over the world have died since 9/11, most of natural causes, others not. And for each of those people, you’re going to find a few people who have that space to deal with. I’ve been watching all this 9/11 stuff on TV over the past week, and all I can think is, this is nice, but that was a long time ago, and a lot of us had other shit dropped on us in the mean time, or had other shit before this that resonates more strongly now, simply because it’s personal.
But 9/11 was just one of those events – I’m hoping a “once in a lifetime” sort of thing for us. I won’t be forgetting the truly shitty, wounded way I felt that day, or for months afterwards. But life went on, and I can see that we’re all going to have these emotional gunshot wounds in our lives, parents dying, friends dying, siblings dying, to a point in our lives where very few people we know will be left alive. And then we’ll become aware of our own time coming, and from what I saw of Dad on his death bed, that’s a rough place to be. The point being that the first half of your life is relatively death-free, and the last will be all of us dealing with this. And I can see it’s going to be a balancing act between remembering those who have gone accordingly, and learning how to let them go. A lot of strange stuff, some comforting, some not, still swirls around in that empty space.