Monday, September 08, 2003


"Where were you when it happened," seems to have replaced the standard "hello" or any greeting-like variation. Most can’t get through their polite small talk quick enough to find out exactly what you were up to on the morning of September 11th. Where you stuck on the downtown A train while overhearing conflicting stories of a plane…no, wait, it’s a helicopter colliding into the World Trade Center or…did she just say "the Empire State Building"? Where you already at work preparing your coffee just the way you like it with two sugars and low-fat milk? Or where you, like me, still guiltily sleeping, spending a few more minutes gallivanting in the land of Naivete? How quickly my innocence was seized from me when I awoke that morning. If I had known I could never return back to that safe place, I would have taken a momento. A little token. Perhaps a postcard with the message printed on it: Naivete – wish you were here.


I turn on the TV. I watch. I am disgusted with myself for sitting here helpless but more so for wondering whether I should still be concerned with alternate side of the street parking. Hmm, the problem here is that I’ve tuned in late – in middle of the plot - which leaves me with no choice but to multitask. I need to find out exactly what happened while, simultaneously, try to register this horrible tragedy as something real. I need to catch up with the others. Can I do both? I have to remind myself regularly that this is not a movie. Oh no, no, no. This is not a movie with Bruce Willis. No, Bruce Willis is just as shocked as I am. He is somewhere despising himself too, for being so helpless. Hyperventilating. I must relax. I should wander the street and seek comfort in numbers. I turn off the TV for the time being. I find myself inching back to the TV, needing just a little more. I need a bit fucking more. But my brain intervenes. It accuses my eyes of lying. You did not just see that. You lie, eyes! You fucking lie! But the eyes remain silent knowing this is not the time to be proven right. The eyes just want to slink back behind their eyelids. The heart, like the brain, finds it easier to deny. The heart knows what’s best for it – no oily foods, no cholesterol, and absolutely no World Trade Center collapsing. The only argument I have for myself in resisting the TV’s grasp is what every policeman has said in just about every movie: move along now. There’s nothing to see. In fact, right now a hundred blocks away, I am sure there was a policemen saying the same thing to those looking in grief-stricken awe for the Twin Towers. Move along now, there’s nothing to see.


We all have our own cathartic rituals. For Neil and I, it had always been a grilled Sub sandwich courtesy of Subsation on Coney Island Avenue. Looking back over the past few years, whenever we were challenged with events beyond our control, we found solace in a pastrami-with-grilled-onions-on-garlic-bread. It may not be the resolution of deeper understanding, but for a few minutes it helped Neil forget about his troubles and along with it, the incoming paperwork. This magical pile of saliva-inducing deli gave me the appropriate support I needed after I lost my job. Even my parents could not contest with the sub’s eloquence.

After feeling incredibly numb for the past week or two over "Black Tuesday (in America, even a day of tragedy is granted a brand name)", lacking all functions of pain and healing, I need to feel something. Even if that feeling occurs only in my stomach. Neil concurred and felt it was time for us to take a ride to Brooklyn. To find solace in a pastrami sub sandwich.

Since September 11th, I have been experiencing a demented need to see the rubble itself. The rubble holds nothing back. It breaks the news to you without restraint. The rubble sees things you can not comprehend and just lies dormant in testimony. In a common symptom of the post-Black Tuesday anxiety, I have seen just about every clip known to mankind - every angle, every degree of that second plane - but yet, I still can’t fathom in my thick stupid head that all this has really happened. I still can’t look you in the eye and tell you, yes, we really did lose our heads. How convincing would I be, if I didn’t believe it myself? I didn’t see it happen. I mean, there are Holocaust revisionists. Perhaps I could be a World Trade Center revisionist. Maybe…hey, maybe the buildings were never even there. Maybe my friend Adam had lied all along and didn’t even have a job on the 83rd floor. How do I know?
I’m having a very hard time internalizing, no, conceptualizing what has happened. How do I relate?

Do you now see how dangerous it is not to feel closure or the pain? Am I looking for a rationalization to see the horrific bloody mess? Do you see the ridiculous nonsensical ramblings it could bring you to? Don’t you understand that sometimes, in desperate measures, we will do anything to escape our harsh reality? Well, my friend, Reality has left town. He’s finding it too difficult to make it in New York City. In the meantime, he’s been replaced by Delusion.



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