The following is from a series of musings on trauma, memory, community, and place. The introduction to the series and beginning essay [link] explains the purpose of this month of entries.
I dread every year being forced to remember the “anniversary”.
Furthermore I don’t really like to discuss it.
And I’m grateful to be in a place where no one asks me about it.
So I won’t talk about that day per se.
I’ll only say that I recall refusing to leave New York City for an entire year out of fear of seeing the ruptured skyline with my own eyes.
In retrospect, this was rather mindless if not selfish of me.
It was my mother who reminded me that New York City was now “like she remembered it”.
She’s always been good at grounding me in reality.
There was much talk in those days about how the event “united” everyone.
What I recall most is how many framed the event personally.
An exercise in selfish disunion.
A colleague said: “I can see why some people might leave New York; but it didn’t effect me personally.”
Those were his words.
Tina Brown blamed it for ruining yet another one of her ill-fated magazines.
Where I unfortunately once worked for a few desperate months, speaking of ill-fatedness.
“Damn September 11th!” she stated to her staff.
As she informed them of the termination of their employment.
As if wage slaves should blame events objectively removed from their more obvious derivations.
But this is an entirely different discussion.
Some of the staff at Henri Bendel made signs for their offices that read: “Ground Zero for Fashion”.
This too I heard verbatim.
A disturbing remove from reality.
In retrospect I see that we are but shadows and ghosts in their landscape.
I believe the New Jersey–dialect translation of which goes something like: “It’s Frank’s world; the rest of us just live in it.”
Our “place” is defined if not limited by their presence.
Like water eddying around intractable boulder stones.
Rushing to escape their presence.
Image: Light display | Date: September 2002 | Place: Downtown Manhattan; viewed from Jersey City | Camera: Spartus “Full-Vue” 120mm/1940s | Caption: I remember hating these lights; a literal “spectacle”. This was a five-minute exposure at night.