I apologize for
the long delay in sending this, and once again for the lack of
photographs. The reality of this tragedy is settling in. I live so near,
it's a daily reality, I don't need CNN. (But I am fortunate, too. There
are residents closer to ground zero who are now allowed home) I froze up
because I needed to write; I became depressed and moody. I didn't allow
myself to write and it made it worse. I finally forced myself tonight.
The results are poor, but it broke the logjam. I will try to do better
I can promise you that I have taken a lot more photos,
not of ground zero, for not only can I not get back there, but I think
we have been saturated by it. I have taken pictures of the effects of
ground zero, the things that are people's turn to help, to grieve and to
heal. Sometimes a picture is worth a couple of words, and I don't have
to mangle grammar and syntax to say it.
But they are not attached. I hope to have them posted on
a web site, along with this, this stream of consciousness... and, for
those kind enough to permit, your thoughts and replies. Many wrote so
much more eloquent and thoughtfully then the words that inspired them.
I have added one small section dated 9.15.01. It is less
a vivid account of events dark view of my state of mind. I promised not
to do it again in my prior mailing, but there is less action I can
I have done a lot of walking around the city and taking
photos. I have two cameras so I don't forget. I have taken notes; I
think I can give you a less self-serving narrative in days to come. But
there are some issues I want to talk about. Bear with me, therapy isn't
I also reordered the entries with day one at the
beginning and continuing chronologically down to the end. Makes more
sense, but I can't promise that I didn't garble it up. Also ignore the
entreaties to read it the other way. I still haven't edited it.
The next entry is dated 9.15.01
Itís funny how days past turn to dreams.
I am feeling as if none of our adventures really
happened. It has been two days since we were last in and it weighs on me
as if we are missing our opportunity to really help before this drama
evolves into a well organized clean up. In other words, I think things
are getting back to normal and that we are getting to accept this event
as the normal. We are so saturated that it becomes the truth and
accepted. Except we still are mourning and in pain. For many, I suppose,
that is normalÖ
Additionally some more scum decided that looting and
theft within the work area were, for them, ďgetting back to normal.Ē
In response they have tightened security. It was best that I stayed home
last night. Though I sorely missed the opportunity I think our ability
to perpetrate help is arrested.
After spending the night writing, I was exhausted from
lack of sleep and regular meals. The phone rang and I thought it might
be Layla but it was my 9-year-old niece calling to see if I was coming
to the farm in Pennsylvania. It was 10 AM and that was a good 4 and a
half hours sleep.
She has been worried about me since the initial attack
and I have talked to her about it. But I am not sure what she
understands or how much detail to give her. If we, as adults, cannot
comprehend this how does a child?
I decided to go
for a ride to PA, to get out of the city. I realized that leaving New
York was not abandoning the effort or showing a lack of support. In
fact, there is nothing more I or any of us can really do now. They have
all they need, except heavy equipment, and although other bikers might
consider my 6-cylinder motorcycle, it would be useless to the effort.
Besides Canal St. was now beginning to fill with the curious and the
tourists. Things are getting back to normal...
Iím in a fogÖ
our coffee, I headed up to the upper west side to finally have
lunch/dinner with Milo. The first time on the subway in what seemed
ages. It is quiet and subdued, strange for a Friday near rush hour.
People are not talking; they are lost inside. The 50-yard stare.
I emerge at 59th
Street and Columbus Circle, new construction, the south west corner of
central park, the start of the upper west side. I walk up towards
different up here; thereís sunlight. There is sunlight downtown too. But
SOHO is quiet, its narrow streets dark and deserted, isolated and
protected, gateway to hell.
The streets are
wider. Trees, clean, green, and rubbish free, parade up the median.
People, normal people, walk, talk and seem to have purpose. Here you
canít turn around and see the hole where the sky is now, where there was
once stainless steel. You never could. So nothingís missing in this
Even the acrid
smoke canít afford to spoil the day up here. The clouds here are water
vapor, not the mix of chemicals and death. Itís a dream come true. Like
the old days, like Monday.
I feel like an
alien. Like Iíve got a secret that they donít and I am dying to scream
it out. Stores are open, people are shopping, and traffic and transport
ply their trade.
They know, but
Ground Zero is as far from here as Mars is. Most here probably were
exposed via CNN. Didnít see the hole, the flames, the horror. Donít
smell it on a daily basis.
Not fair, they
suffer too, you can see it, the gait is different, less aggressive, less
self-assured. Theyíre off their cells. Theyíre quiet, mourning,
I meet Milo, we
hug, chat, look for lunch. Everything is open and we have choices. We
are indecisive and pass the decision back and forth. He is curious about
it all, I feel like I am veiled in gauze and have to fight to talk.
We settle on
Greek. Place is empty, maybe two or three tables are occupied. Some with
children. They talk about it too, and like children do, too loudly. The
instinct is to be annoyed and curt, but the times call for us to change
instinct and to understand. Hopefully, that lasts for a lifetime.
My first real
meal in days. I order pasta with tomato sauce. My comfort food and not
really a staple of Greek cuisine. Itís the first thing I order in Italy
when I get there. Basic, back to earth, simple and rewarding. Safe.
We chat, my cell
phone vibrates, I am rude and answer. Family, friends and strangers.
Checking, thanking, complimenting. The gauze wraps a little tighter, I
am overwhelmed and confused by it all.
We leave and walk
further north. Food has made the gauze looser, we conference call a
mutual friend on our cells. Itís bizarre in normal life, but this
provides some levity.
We will visit my
sister and family for a minute. Weíve talked since D-Day but not
touched. The kids are normal, shy, sassy and independent. Love is
evident but not emotive. Normal.
Off again, we
walk back south. Itís early evening and more people circulate. The sun
is still shining, unaware that we were expecting darkness; the clouds
play as if nothing has changed. If I didnít know that that would change
soon, I would have complained to headquarters.
Milo helps the
economy and dives into Tower Records. I head south, stranger then ever.
I connect through the cell to my dear friend Antonio. We havenít talked
since D-Day. He needs help getting on-line; yesterdayís rain has
drenched his mouse. He left the window open looking out at the
unbalanced skyline. Strong enough to be weak inside. He mourns for his
adopted country, New York is his ďEl DoradoĒ and the skyline is the
fountain of youth. Except the biggest totem of all is now gone. The
fountain of youth is lost again.
I donít want to
be dealing with technology, but I donít want to be disconnected either.
As I walk towards Columbus Circle again, I notice a small group of
people standing outside a doorway holding candles. Which causes me to
notice a lot of people holding candles.
Circle, by the entrance to the park, with itís winged monument to the
battleship Maine, stands a larger group, holding candles. A few police
watch in peace.
Maine was blown up in an act of terror that led us into the Spanish
American war. We won and our spoils were the ownership of Puerto Rico,
the Philippines, and Cuba.
Except they are
not sure if it was really terrorism or just an accident.
It didnít matter
to the press. War was good for business, and our honor was at stake.
Teddy Roosevelt became a hero charging up San Juan Hill and then a
People died tooÖ
My complaint to
headquarters seems to have been heeded and the sky is dark, the clouds
melt into their surrounds. Itís 7 PM and two ladies try to hand me a
candle that wonít light. I thank them and move on without.
Itís 7 PM and
time for everyone to stop what they are doing, driving, shopping, moving
and display solidarity. I see a patrol car blocking an intersection and
the two policemen lighting a group of candles left on the sidewalk. I
resist the urge to hug them.
A block down, on
the other side of 8th Ave. is a firehouse. A large crowd
bulges into the avenue. Normally they would be pins in the game of
traffic and cabs would be the bowling balls. Now, traffic flows quietly
This station has
lost more men then in one minute then in a lifetime of service. Every
fire station in NY has. Flowers, pictures, candles support the bulge and
are contained by it.
A homeless man
curses at a dark skinned cabbie. I miss the exchange, homeless probably
mistaking the dark skin for a relative of the hijacker and telling where
to go. The cabbie tells him to ďfuck off.Ē Normal. New YorkÖ
Back to SOHO and
home. I desperately want to go back and help. I am in pain again, driven
and pace the loft. Layla is being human, finding diversion, finding life
again. I blast my cowardice, unwilling to risk the increased security,
unwilling to do the act solo. Willing to help, no knowing how.
I write. I write
in frenzy. Itís 4:00 AM! My Internet service is finally out, I canít
mail out my peace, my piece. I find a solution. Itís 5 AM. I helped. I
helped my self.
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