Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nine Eleven

Note: It's been September 11th for over an hour here in New Orleans, and for a few minutes or so in New York. I wanted this posting to show up on September 11, and not on blogspot time...

What can you say on this seventh anniversary? You can read a ton in The New York Times, though there's no 911 story on the front page, at least not on line HERE
Maybe people are sick of remembering. Maybe we've moved on.
I had already moved from New York. In fact it had already been six years. I got back there two or three times a year, but still when you don't ride the subway everyday, you lose touch no matter how well you know your city.
That morning, 9/11/01, I was making coffee in our French Quarter apartment. We were on the ground floor overlooking a beautiful brick courtyard with a fountain. I had the cutest double door window that opened onto it, and every morning a fellow tenant and friend named Jamal came to my window for a cup of coffee before he went to school. I was like Mrs. Madrigal in Tales Of The City except I didn't have a sex change.
The photo below is that French Quarter teeny kitchen; Jamal is not in the photo. The two woman who are not Jamal are: Me (the brunette), and my sister (the redhead).
Alberto was still asleep. Jamal came flying down the stairs. He was yelling and banging on our door, and nearly flew into the kitchen window. "Mama Val! MamaValMAMAVALMAMAVAL"!
It did not compute. Jamal barged in and turned on the TV, and pointed his finger - "Look Mama Val it's your New York burning".
I went back later that year. Everything felt changed. A dear friend almost jumped down my throat when I said nine one one, instead of nine eleven. Apparently New Yorkers say nine eleven. I felt left out, even though it happened to all of us. But I was a New Yorker who wasn't there when it happened, and now my friends were treating me with that you couldn't possibly totally understand the experience since you didn't live through it vibe. I was terribly hurt. Hurt that it happened, and hurt that I wasn't there, and hurt that everyone was hurting so much.
But then I got my personal hurt too. And sometimes I feel like screaming YOU HAVE NO IDEA BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT FROM HERE. But then I shut up my angry and hurt mind, because everybody, every single one of us, has their own personal hurt and shame. All we can do is offer a shoulder and a hand and an ear, and our good and giving hearts to one another. And all we can do is accept the shoulder, the hand, the ear, the heart.
Seven years is a long time. And no time at all. When will they rebuild something at Ground Zero? When we will they find Osama? When will the hurt and fear and anger and shame go away? Three years is a long time. When will they help us rebuild a great American city? When will the hurt and fear and anger and shame go away. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Movers lost all my family and personal photos, but every once in awhile I find one stuck in the pages of a book I haven't looked at for a long while.
They're like little lost treasures, whether you lose them in flood waters or through neglect...

... whether you post them in the street as a small ray of hope when you are searching for a lost one, or hold them at a memorial, or put them in an album, or post them on a blog.

This is the only photo I have of The World Trade Center when I lived in New York. It was one of those stuck in between the pages of an old book.
I'm standing up there with my niece Michelle, who is now a grown woman in her 30's, a mother of two beautiful daughters. She was ten, and spending Summer vacation with Auntie Valorie. I took many, many out of town people up to the top. I dined at Windows on The World, and did events there too. I used the subway station at The World Trade Center several times a week. I am thankful I was there then.
So what's left to say on this day of remembering, of any day of remembering at any memorial?
Prayers for the living and the dead. Prayers of hope. Prayers to get us through another day, another year.
And even if you don't pray, that's okay too. Good vibes abound, and will come all of our way.
And I'm sure you send out your good wishes and good feelings to everyone. Prayer is just another word for caring.
Peace Out.


vicki archer said...

A beautiful and moving post.
As a non New Yorker and a non American for that matter, I am touched by your sentiments and descriptions.
Rarely do I read about 9/11 and what it was like for those of you who are New Yorkers but were not living there at the time. We all tend to focus on the immediate victims and the causes and forget the wider spreading tentacles of a tragedy of this magnitude.

Pascale said...

Merci pour ton commentaire sur le blog d'Alkemie.
Ces photos sur le 11 novembre sont très émouvantes!


Mariafer said...

Beautiful post...

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

YOUR words are poetry. Raw and real.

And through all it not amazing to be alive, and scabbed and bruised...but feeling and living? I think so....for me.

To healing.

Old House Junkie said...

Val, Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. ohj

Jennifer P. said...

I loved this post. It means so much more coming from a New Yorker.

You must come and run in my blogging circle for a while. It is in sore need of some high fashion :)

Best to you,
~Jennifer P.

Cote de Texas said...

just beautiful. you are the best writer (not such a great photographer, but hey - no one's perfect!)

really really great.
love this -

Old House Junkie said...

Val, the photos of people praying are lovely. I imagine they're praying for peace.

I've heard Sarah Palin say, though, that the war in Iraq is a "holy war" and it's God's task for us at this time. Hmmm, isn't that sentiment likely similar to what Osama Bin Laden preached to his disciples.

I'm scared, Val, I'm very scared. ohj

Visual Vamp said...

ohj - Don't be scared. VOTE!