Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Never Forgot

It's that time of year again.

It's time for politicians like Joe Biden to make their appearances. For fundraisers to benefit survivors and rescuers. For cynical manipulators like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin to use tragedy to their own advantage, and I'm not joking when I say I'm glad they'll be way the hell in Alaska, away from NYC. For xenophobes like Pastor Terry Jones to spread hatred in the name of Christ, nevermind the consequences. For people who don't want to succumb to hatred or vote Republican or spend any more blood and treasure on endless war to be accused of forgetting, as if we could ever forget. 9/11 Season. I fucking hate it.

It's time for people who left NYC and those who stayed to converge near a patch of what used to be prime property, what finally may become prime property again. Some of them will have new last names, new spouses, and children too young to remember, who may not even have been born yet. It's time for people to do the same near the Pentagon in Washington DC and what used to be a farm in Pennsylvania, a field that is now a stark reminder of just how heroic ordinary people can be. In NYC, it can be easy to forget that others were affected.

It's time for my wife to sew or read or pound her speedbag until she's so exhausted she has to sleep, because she can't do it otherwise. Every year, she wakes up sweating and screaming less and doesn't kick me quite as much as the last. It's like she's dreaming of playing soccer, except I know good and well she isn't. It's time for me to remind her that she needs to eat, and make food that she likes so much it compels her. It's time for her to go to whatever Fashion Week events she can and try to get on with business like so many others, but feel a bit strange about it. It's time for her to remember a very close friend who died, as well as several acquaintances and customers. It's the day she was scheduled, by random lucky stroke, to come to work at a store in the World Trade Center in the afternoon. It's the day she tried to donate blood and was still rejected for being a tick too small even though the blood bank was desperate. It's the night she sat on the floor in her friend's cramped apartment, calling his mother in Russia to let her know he never left the building. The call was long and cost a fortune. Nobody cared.

It's time for me to remember that day. How ordinary it was. How I'd just gotten to work and set up. How I was playing around on the computer a bit, because I could, and then I saw it on the Yahoo! homepage. There had been articles about relatively trivial things, and then those suddenly got knocked the hell off the page. The ripples of "Oh my God, did you hear...?" reverberated around my Orlando office. Work didn't get done that day. Several of us were allowed to use the long-distance lines to call loved ones in NYC, including myself. We had a hard time getting through. I didn't reach L'Ailee until midnight, on my own phone. She'd had an excruciatingly busy and stressful day, and it ended with her long-distance girlfriend screaming, "Never do that to me again! Don't you ever scare me like that again!" I feel kinda bad about that...now.

It's time for us to meet at the former World Trade Center site along with some of our friends. We'll tell each other what we're wearing (black, of course, even me, though I hate how I look in black), and text each other when we get there, and have brunch afterwards. L'Ailee's best friend A. is coming with his husband, his ex-wife, and their daughter. He and the ex-wife will bury the hatchet for the morning. She ran out of one of the towers that day. She has memories of her own, worse ones than L'Ailee's. She's not one of my favorite people, but I hope she's finding comfort this week, too. The daughter was a baby that day; she is now a tall almost-10-year-old girl who asked them if she could go for once. We will listen to the names. I didn't know any of them when they were alive, but I know by now which ones my wife and friends need to hear.

It's time for us to stand and shift our feet and be polite even when the mayor speaks and hold hands. It's time for most of us, including L'Ailee, to remember. It's time for me to remember how very lucky I am that I can stand next to her. The man who is my closest friend at work, and one of my closest friends outside it as well, feels the same way about his wife. We will talk in the restaurant, and tear up, and tell the familiar stories. We'll even laugh a little. It doesn't feel weird for anybody anymore. We will scatter and go about our business. Most of us will reunite at L'Ailee's and my home that night to watch the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond. It's a big deal because it's the last one before the Chase for the Championship. Last May, during the spring race at Richmond, there was a car rigged with explosives, ready to go off in Times Square. Our cell phones buzzed with the news, and we quickly flipped the TV away from the race. The ones who prayed did. We were all on pins and needles. We learned the true beauty of the word "attempted." Our city is a far more vigilant one now than it used to be, and New Yorkers aren't quite as cool as they once were.

It's time for us to remember the day everything changed.

Links, links:

This is what we're doing Friday night. People for the American Way has organized a Vigil for Equality, Diversity, and Religious Freedom to make a statement against hate in New Yorkers' and 9/11 victims' names.

I want everyone to read this. It's much better than anything I can write, and so eloquently says many things I've wanted to say myself. America, I Live in New York City, I'm Gay, and I'm a Real American, Too

Five worries parents should drop, and five they shouldn't This one brings home the meaning of an expression I like: "When you hear hoofprints, think horses, not zebras."

Adult milkshakes--that is, laced with alcohol--were very popular this summer. The New York Times explains why. I can't have the Brooklyn Bowl shakes because I'm allergic to that "good" ice cream with egg yolks, but I'm happy to make egg-free versions at home.

Sidney Crosby's not just one of the very best hockey players around right now, he's also pretty danged good at baseball. Based on what Pittsburgh Penguins fans who are actually based in Pittsburgh say about their local baseball team, he might get an offer from the Pirates.

Finally, a blogger turns a bit of uneducated hate mail calling him a "foggot" into one of the most hilarious e-mail exchanges ever!

5 comments:

alan said...

Don't feel guilty about loving so much that you were upset...

Pity those who don't!

I'll be thinking of you two even more than usual come Saturday. Pass along a hug from me to your adored one...I adore her as well...

And love you both very very much!

alan

Dr. Deb said...

I also cringe when it is this time of year. Not because I don't want to rememeber, etc. Living in and working in NY, like you, is a constnat reminder of what was lost.

BostonPobble said...

I'm amazed at how much about hate this date has become when it needs to be just the opposite. I always think about you a lot, and I'll think more about you this week. As for links, LOVE the "I'm a Real American" article. The new digs are great; the new city is great. The new state...well, I love the article.

Barbara said...

I am sorry I have been MIA (MIB?) lately, I am glad I got to catch up with your blog. A very poignant post. I have never been to New York but like everyone else, my heart was there that day and also in DC and Penn.

I like Alan's comment. Ditto.

I am off to read a couple of the links you posted.

Raven said...

A very powerful post. I have nothing to add, you said it all so well. Also, that article "America, I live in New York City, I'm Gay, and I'm a Real American, Too" was great. Thanks for the link.