Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/11 stream of consciousness

9/11. An event that made me ever more aware of the present, of change, of moving foward, of not holding onto things we have no control over (like the past). I felt deep sympathy and shock (but that is also because of the proximity of where I live and not being able to get to my family the day it happened). My college campus was on high alert the day after, there were threats all over Staten Island--borderline hysteria...and you know what? The day of 9/11 I walked to the Brooklyn shore to video tape the second building burning before it fell...on the walk I filmed butterflies and later interviewed a dog. I allowed myself to deeply feel, but then I had to move on and learn. So many people here cannot let go. Ironically, I was more alarmed by the loss of the buildings than the loss of life. I will never deny the day was a tragic event, but for me it was a wake up call, an end of a more innocent time inside myself. I grew up in those buildings. Up until I was about fourteen my father was a security guard in the South tower in the highest business floor-- there were four floors of restaurants above us. When my parents--after being estranged for some time--finally divorced, every Friday my father would take us with him to the Metropolitan for art histoy classes for kids that he volunteered for, then we would go eat somewhere in the city, and then by around 10pm or so we would go through this whole pretend act with the elevator security--my dad would goof about and tell the guy our mom was going to come for us (ha! as if!) and then we would go all the way up to the offices and hang out. I had some of my earliest moments of humillity and spirituality standing in those windows looking down from above the clouds at New York City--I felt like an angel looking over a matchbox city....i was maybe 11 and I understood how small and insignificant everything is....I remember we would have to sleep on this little uncomfortable couch and hide ourselves with pillows so people coming off the elevators wouldn't see us and in turn get my dad fired. We would leave at just the right time when the new guards were in so that my dad could pretend that our mom had dropped us of when the last guy ______ let us up to see him. At the time of 9/11 I was a bartender and catered to many trade workers. Late one night, I think it was that Saturday, a group of our iron workers came in after being at Ground Zero all day. They were these burly men, black with soot, and crying. I remember holding Billy's hand as he sobbed about finding the arm of a doll under rocks. Knowing Billy he could have been telling me this to pull at my heart strings, but I had the image of the doll part burned in my psyche and all I could think about was my childhood in the towers, about the time my friend Joey (who recently passed away) and I got drunk while traipsing the city--we ended up inside one of the towers running up and down escalators and kicking our shoes off at the windows, about how my niece would be plagued with this day as her birthday for her whole life....I thought about how my dad used to tell me that King Kong was buried under the two towers and that the building was on wheels (to explain why it rocked)....when the towers fell, I thought, I need to let go of bagagge and stop trying to look back and make sense of the past.

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