Today started with promise. A beautiful day, perfect day. Sunshine, blue skies. This could be written this morning, or it could have been written another morning thirteen years ago today. In fact, by most of the accounts I’ve read this morning, thirteen-years-ago today started pretty much exactly like today. For instance: Courage & Humanity on 9.11.01 by Lila Lyric. 10 Years Later by Morgan Shanahan Of course, these are just two accounts. There are millions of collective stories that make up my generation’s experience of this day. We collectively mourn the victims. And we collectively are the victims. (I also know that we of this generation do no ever like to think of ourselves as victims…me the least.) But as I’m reading friends’ accounts, thinking of those early days in New York, and across the country and the world, I’m remembering for the first time in a while what it was like on 9/10/2001. And 9/11/1999, and 9/11/1993. And so on. This has me feeling a bit nostalgic for the 90s in general, and mostly nostalgic for the lack of weight hanging in the air… a weight we’ve had on our shoulders for so long that I forgot what it was like not to carry it around. And we’ve all carried it around together. Today I’m in Austin, melancholy in the sunshine. At home, moving ahead, juggling contractors and feeling the urge to throw away everything around me that isn’t glued down (yard sale, coming soon), but last year on this day, I flew to New York to visit friends. I connected with Isabel, celebrated Liz and stayed with Sarah, about six blocks away from Ground Zero. And so even though I’m here today, I’m also kinda there. Even in the chaos and construction of my current environment, my heart is right back at Ground Zero.
9/12 A Repost from 9.12.13. I flew to New York yesterday, on 9/11. I do not like to fly on 9/11. I especially do not like to fly to New York on 9/11. And while some would say it’s the safest day of the year to air travel, I don’t know, I felt a bit too cavalier about the act of boarding a plane yesterday. The fact that any of us has the self-possession and optimistic confidence to strap ourselves in to another’s machine and take off into we have no control….well, the fact that there’s a flight industry at all says a lot about us as humans, doesn’t it? Like that flimsy safety and security belt is going to make any difference. I guess one could argue that moving through modern life at any sense of speed and confidence brings with it the same bravado. Optimistic at best, ignorant at worst. I say both, and I would agree. It’s super dumb. But then what’s the alternative, really? Caution? Safety? Fear? It’s all the same. I guess it’s days like 9/11 that make us remember those things. Days like yesterday force us to face our childhood fears and cautionary tales and to remember their actual possibilities. Their real life probabilities. In the end, we remember how fragile we are. But then of course, as thing happen and time passes throughout the days or months, in time, in distance, inevitably we build on that foundation of fragility with either guarded fear or with defenseless hope… not hope for a different result really, but the hope for a better experience along the way. Exactly twelve years ago today, I had a dream that I had a little boy named Harry, who had a sister named Harper and a brother named Simon, with a littlest sister called Sylvia. And as vivid and specific as this dream was, I realize now that it wasn’t prescient in any way, it was really just dreamscape born from hope. However as things happen, those last three hopes were never born. I know they didn’t happen not because I didn’t try… they didn’t happen because I was unable, or helpless, or afraid. And while I do not love those qualities about myself, I do love that I try… I can sleep knowing that I try. So now, instead of thinking about moving forward in life with either a sense of impending doom or a sense of ignorant bliss, I’m going to move forward with a simple sense of trying. Trying more. Trying different. And yes, of course, the end result is the same result….maybe in different circumstances, perhaps a few years earlier, but the end result is the commonality, the certainty. It’s what happens before that’s interesting… the cocktail, the wild card, the ride. It’s what happens before that makes the difference. So yes, it felt dumb to board a plane on 9/11. It also felt dumb not to. But on the evening of 9/11, as I rolled my suitcase into Brooklyn to celebrate another year with friends, I was so glad I boarded the plane for the ride. And before I fell asleep, only five blocks from the Tribute in Light, I looked out the window and into the twin beams of hope. The close proximity view was haunting, and peaceful, and filled with hundreds of small objects moving around in the light. At first I thought it was paper…which made me think again of the millions of papers and lives which were displaced on this day. And then I thought maybe the gliding objects were doves, which was a lovely thought, but as it turns out, they were songbirds. Here is a video of them and this is exactly what they looked like. Angelic. Symbolic. Trapped momentarily before they moved on. They swooped and floated and soared through the spotlight before migrating to what’s next. And this day’s end vision gave me hope. A group of songbirds, caught in the tribute together, trying different ways to move through it. I watched them for about an hour, and I imagined that once they found their way out, they soared ahead, blissful, unafraid, moving forward into the dark. Soundtrack: Songbird by Eva Cassidy