Friday, September 13, 2002
and furthermore.... blegh.
some days, i try and fake myself out by not bringing any cigarettes to work. well, i made through most of today until 3:45. being able to stand it no longer, i went downstairs and availed myself upon a kindly stranger for a smoke.
leave it to me to pick the one guy in the courtyard who smokes newport light 100's.
i hate menthol cigarettes. they make me feel like something, somewhere in my lungs, has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
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and on a completely materialistic note....
i want these pants and this sweater, along with this scarf and these boots.
anyone feel like breaking the bank on my good taste?
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Wednesday, September 11, 2002
one year later.
it's been a year. you've all seen it on tv, you've been inundating by tear-jerky, flag-waving, nonstop documentaries. all the emotion and turmoil you experienced a year ago is being dregded back up and shoved down your throat. but here, i swear i won't make you cry, and that's more than i can say for diane sawyer and her ilk.
i took today off from work. not so that i can attend a weepy mass memorial, or go to a prayer service, or light a candle. those are valid ways of dealing with grief, they're just not mine. instead, i'm going to spend the day without turning on the television or the radio. i'm going to stay away from manhattan. not because i'm afraid of history repeating itself as macabre farce, but because i don't want to look into the eyes of other new yorkers and read their thoughts. see the same questions: where were you a year ago? did you lose your loved ones? did you see the planes? are you okay?
i'm okay. and i'll tell you what - so is new york. we're okay, here.
but i've got a few things i want to share with you. to begin with, i slept through the attacks. that's not entirely true: the new editor of the paper at slc woke me up that morning, by calling my land line, at 9 am, to tell me, "something wierd is happening down at the twin towers, when you wake up, will you write a quickie news piece for this week's paper?" at that time, it was only one plane, one strange fluke, one bizarre moment on an achingly blue day in september.
by the time i woke up, at 10:45, the towers were gone. i spent the day wandering around in a daze. my story of that morning blends into a whirlwind of other normal new yorker's stories.
what i really think about, when i think about the disaster that shook the foundations of new york and all our lives a year ago, is actually an older story than the saga of that day.
when i was 19, i lived on the west side of washington square park for six weeks in the summer. it was a riotous time, full of debauchery and disobedience. i lived with a bunch of other young kids in an nyu dorm - with nothing to do, we would go drinking down on macdougal til all hours of the night.
some nights, we'd be out so late that some of us would watch the sun come up. it was on those nights that we'd hop on a train, still pretty soused, and head down the the world trade center for krispy kreme donuts, at six in the morning.
we'd sit out there, with our donuts, and our clothes all rumpled and smelling like smoke and bars, and we'd watch the businessfolk scurrying to work. we'd laugh, we would, because they just looked like tools, cogs in the faceless corporate machine. i admit, i mocked them. not maliciously, but still. they weren't people to me. the towers weren't beautiful and majestic to me, they were eyesores. they dwarfed the empire state building, one of my favorite pieces of architecture in the world. and as i watched the people walk by in their grey suits, i never once thought of who they really were.
well, now i'm one of those people. i get on a train every morning, with countless faceless workers, and go to my job. and when the towers fell, when i wandered around manhattan seeing those heartbreaking signs, 'missing, my wife' , 'missing, my wonderful son' - suddenly all my naivete, those long summer days in 2000, looked painful to me. these were people, not faceless cogs in a machine. and they died, having done nothing horribly wrong.
here's what still hurts me, a year later: for each one of those deaths that september day, at least four people's lives were shattered, irredeemably ruined. those people loved people. those people enjoyed days at the beach, or running in marathons, or late night television. they laughed a certain way, their hair parted a certain way, they'd had tragedy and joy and frustration. they were human. they had kids, they had college buddies, they had their regular deli guy who knew they liked their coffee cream, no sugar. they were loved. and now they're gone.
and that's what i think about today. not the fight for freedom, not the war in afghanistan, not getting revenge, not the american flag. i think about each one of those people, and i humbly offer my apologies to them for demeaning their value in the world. i miss them.
and because of that, i'm going to spend this day remembering what love really means - love makes us unique. love makes us human, it makes us irreplaceably valuable to the people who love us. and those people who are gone, they are still loved, for exactly who they were.
on ne voit qu'avec le coeur. l'essentiel est invisible aux yeux.
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Monday, September 09, 2002
upon closer inspection...
it's been a week since my birthday, since i turned twenty two. it's strange .. those words don't mean anything to me. twenty two .. the idea that a number signifies, numerically, the amount of time i have spent as an oxygen-breathing life form... arbitrary.
rather, the only way i can calculate what it means for me to be twenty two is think about it as a representation of twenty two years of life-moments. and in the last few years, there have been some moments.
august 31,1998. bronxville, new york. i turned eighteen in my first week at sarah lawrence. beth was my only friend. my parents, still in town from the great move-in, took beth and i to dinner at pane e vino, in bronxville. i was dating alex. i wore a lot of neutral colors. my hair was long. i was naive and happy and excited.
august 31, 1999. tuckahoe, new york. we had just moved into ressmeyer, for our sophomore year. again, my parents took beth and i out to dinner, somewhere in tuckahoe this time. my hair was long. i was nineteen, my break-up with alex only weeks away. my spirits were high. the summer had been spent in austin, working with ken (good) and slowly losing alex (also good, in retrospect). it had been my first time in my own apartment, my first time learning my way around political journalism, my first time learning my limitations in love. it had been a productive summer.
august 31, 2000. houston, texas. my then-friend amy flew down from boston to celebrate with me. beth, boarding a bus from her crazed life in dallas, came to houston for me. my hair was short. i was turning twenty, no longer a teen. i was a little less than happy, but i didn't know it at the time. the shit with kate had come and gone, the hellish christmas with family in egypt had somewhat healed, and the summer had been spent all over the place, never able to find peace. but that night, i went out to brasil's with erin + nathan, amy + james, and brian. it was nice.
august 31, 2001. providence, rhode island. days before the world changed. my twenty first birthday was sort of a calm between two storms - when you can still feel the ripple of the old danger and can't yet sense what's looming large in the future. my junior year could only be called chaotic, depressing, a low point in my life. the summer had been spent recovering - from bad choices, bad frames of mind, and bad friends. it was the summer i realized how important it is to be your own watchdog, to guard over your happiness as if your life depended on it. that summer in texas, i had my parents, i had erin and raychul, i had love and a sense of peace. and even though the clouds were most certainly still on the horizon that day, only a short week before the most painful week of my life, i was okay. not happy, but managing.
august 31, 2002. dallas/austin, texas. my senior year is over. there's no more school-starting associated with my birthday now. but how much has changed in one short year. i barely recognize myself. i have lost some friends in this year, but they were friendships that had soured. i have shed some bad habits, some demons of self-doubt, some penchants for melodrama. i have solidified friendships. i have shouldered some responsibilities, some better than others. i have cried a lot this year, and i have fallen hard this year. but i've gotten back up, and i've taken loss in stride. which means that of the four years mentioned here, this has been the healthiest. the happiest. funny, how that worked out.
and not to forget, september is a busy birthday month in my wide circle, past and present. but since i have the memory of an elephant, i can't forget these people, even if they've long gone from my life. so, in the correct order, the september birthdays: conrad lumm, may lightfoot, kate berenson, karim "turkey" von alvensleben, siegfried modola, matthieu brajot, and even alex herrin.
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