Thursday, September 13, 2007

Accentuate the Positive

Today an old woman got out of the way of La Bimba's stroller without my having to screech "Permesso!" first.

The young woman who works at the housewares store told me that the reason why Italians think English from England and English from the USA are two different languages is because that's what the English teachers in school tell them.

It is cool and breezy and I am sipping a Coca Cola, che vergogna!, while I type this post. My online fiction writing class started on Tuesday, September 11th and I am already procrastinating.

Speaking of September 11th, I haven't blogged about it at all. I woke up in Berkeley that morning six years ago. My mother and her younger sister were on their way to visit me and their older sister. They were on a Jet Blue flight that left JFK at around 7:30am Eastern time. I got up at around 8:30am west coast time, three hours after the first plane hit. I don't know why I turned on the TV, it was not something I normally did at that hour, perhaps someone called to tell me to turn it on, I don't remember. I saw the two towers burning. Then I saw a man in a business suit falling through the sky. He was bicycling the air, his tie and jacket flapping in the free fall. That image stays with me still. The networks stopped airing it shortly after I saw it. Too traumatic, they later said.

When I finally wrapped my mind around the reality -- this isn't a film trailer -- I lost it. I tried to call my father in Brooklyn, but the lines were in tilt. I called the dance studio where I was supposed to teach that morning and told them I couldn't come in. Someone subbed for me and the dancing people did that morning was healing. I had to stay by the phone (I never went cellular in my American life). My mother called from Kansas City, where her flight was grounded. She and her sister were planning to continue their journey west until they found out that flights would be grounded indefinitely. After a couple of nights in an airport motel, they rented a car and drove back to NY. They had seen all the footage, the first plane, the second plane, the melting towers, on board. Jet Blue has direct TV.

"I *heart* NY" posters started cropping up in Berkeley. My first thought when I saw the news that morning was, "This is only the beginning of serious bloodshed." There were those of us who hoped a lesson of peace would come of the tragedy. There were those who lost people and stayed committed to cultivating peace. Unfortunately, the road taken since that awful day has led to bombs bursting in air.

What I remember the most from that day and those that followed is the silence. With no airplanes in the air the world around me got very quiet. I have a friend who was in the back country that week. He couldn't understand why that trip was so much quieter than previous ones. He didn't find out about what happened until her emerged a few days later.

With Bush's "you're either with us or against us" stand, it is never easy writing honestly about 9/11, not because I give a rats ass what that man thinks, but because it has become too easy to offend people who were directly affected by the events of that day. Americans have had little experience with a massacre of that nature on their own soil and its cinematic quality, the spectacle of it, made it such that it seemed bigger and worse than anything in history. Of course it wasn't.

I don't do anything special when September 11th comes around. I just try to remember all the suffering in the world and make a wish for it to cease.

1 comment:

Marmite Breath said...

Well that's all any of us can do.