On trauma, memory, community, place. | 4/31

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 remember my work at a food magazine in New York City.

Our rule of thumb was “authenticity”.

Which we were often forced to, well, replicate rather artificially.

Nonetheless, we used to take pride in our local attention to neighborhood restaurants and the like.

Attempting to anchor by sheer force of will certain aspects of a New York slated for destruction.

In December of 2001, however, a staff Christmas party was held in a restaurant about a block or two away from “the Hole”.

It was our effort to “support downtown businesses”.

Because, you might remember, business “suffered” at that time.

No one seemed to mind that “Radio Row”–an entire business district–was obliterated and thousands displaced to allow those Towers to rise.

But that’s a whole other discussion.

A note from our company’s owner reminded us that the then president-select wanted us to “think about the economy” and return to work as soon as possible.

It wasn’t his idea we should have a company party, that’s for sure.

It was all I could do to go down there.

Klieg lights marked “the Void”.

I kept my back to them.

Inside the restaurant, we tried to make small talk.

It was an exercise in absurdity.

I recall a colleague stating she no longer felt “safe”.

This despite her Soho loft with 24/7 doorman, concierge, driver, maid, nanny, etc.

She also said that she could not imagine living without her satin sheets.

Her exact words.

I just stared at her in disbelief.

This list of individual takes on “9/11” is endless.

The media refer to these as “human interest” stories.

They work best when there is an obvious “hero” overcoming “adversity”.

Such adversity often takes the form of peoples from a different stratum of society.

The translation of which might read: “Triumph of the (Unpopular) Will”.

Such narratives ignore history, economics, and politics.

And those not of a certain arrived class.

This is a tactic, of course.

I ran into this same colleague in the coffee shop down the street from work a few days later.

She had her son with her.

As little boys are wont to do, he was a bit all over the place.

This is perfectly valid in a world where children are allowed to be children.

This is quite forbidden in a world where children are treated as tiny adults.

My colleague was hard-pressed how to handle the situation.

Her stress, palpable, was obviously the source of the child’s acting out.

At one point she cornered her son against the counter.

She leaned into his face and held his arms fast.

She was saying something in a very low voice.

I strained to hear what she might be saying.

All the while feeling slightly embarrassed for her.

Because her intervention was worse than his rambunctiousness.

The boy stood stock still for a bit.

And then he screamed out loud: “I can’t take it any more!

He summed up a certain malcontent spirit.

One that is, generally speaking, slated for extermination.

I give him credit for realizing it.

And for voicing it at such a young age.


Image: The Flatiron Building, near my former place of employ. | Date: 2002 | Place: Fifth Avenue and Madison Park | Camera: Spartus “Full-Vue” 120mm/1940s | Caption: Unlike other buildings destroyed in their remaking–such as Edward Durell Stone’s “lollipop building” at 2 Columbus Circle–the Flatiron was simply cleaned up and restored to its original glory.

About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
This entry was posted in Manifesto and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to On trauma, memory, community, place. | 4/31

  1. eagoodlife says:

    I wonder how many children are suffering this way with parents who don’t know how to parent and who don’t understand childhood because they were not understood? How will we end it?

  2. Mrs 100% polyester, satin sheets, nanny, etc. I ask the question…WHY HAVE CHILDREN. Her lack of understanding her wee son was so so obvious in how she dealt with him, this I am sorry to say is the hallmarks of a working mum. As a mother of loss, I found I was NOT unique in that MATERIAL GAIN never came into the equation, having lost my precious baby to adoption, and subsequently marrying, my beloved husband was so gracious, knowing I would only ever be a MUM, I never worked, yet I was a busy beaver, I grew my veg. fruit, knitted, sewed, and hand made all my bedding, and lots of furniture, and UPHOLSTERD, as well as painting murals on their bedroom walls. and loved every moment being there for my husband and children, today as adults, the skills I taught them as a child they all have benefited from, they cook FRESH every day, they GROW their own VEG, they sew, YES MY SONS SEW, and DARN the old Scottish way of darning socks, and they can iron as good as any woman, also they were taught SAFETY in the home, and FIRST AID, our family day was a Saturday, when my hubby and I took them to the seaside, into the forrest, or climbing the beautiful Scottish mountains, all these beautiful pursuits were entirely FREE and extremely HEALTHY and very educational, my sons now have careers that take them across the world, and often thank me for the GRAT values I instilled, and it COST ME NOTHING but my time, which as a mum, you give CONTINUALLY and UNCONDITIONALY I thought or would think of doing anything different…MATERIALISM IS THE CURSE OF THE WORLD…..Family joy/preservation, IS PRICELESS and should never be devalued to where it is today, stay at home mums, in this fast technical industrial materialistic world are looked upon with disdain. Thank you Daniel, as a mum of loss, I weep so much reading your accounts, mums of loss would find these posts precious and invaluable, as I see reading, the character building you have had, also you gained much understanding through experience, you have had some of life’s most pretentious folks to deal with , my son only ever will talk about the moment, and the future, I NEVER have heard from him what life’s experiences were like for him, his likes/dislikes, his schooling. his university days etc. he just clams up, I give him a wee hug, and change the subject, once again Daniel THANK YOU for sharing your experiences((((Tartan Hugs))))

    • Thanks Marion. You bring up an excellent point alluded to in the entry. Recently, in terms of the “Baby Veronica” case, and generally speaking, much discussion is given to parents being there “from day one”; or the ability of parents to “be there” in a child’s life. The heinous “baby wanted” web sites all pay a lot of lip service to the “amount of time” that will be spent with the child. This begs rebuttal. First, a staff of ten people taking care of a child dilutes such attention in no small way. Second, such attention to the children in the care of those who “have” comes at the expense of those who “have not”, setting up the very conditions that allow for adoption in the first place. Finally, the absence of “communal care” (despite ridiculous books from former First Ladies) cannot hide behind the privatized version of it, as represented by this woman and her failed attempts to raise a child. I remember really feeling sorry for her at the time. And I wonder what the boy (young man) is up to….

  3. Eagoodlife, How will we end it? we will end it when we are taught the joy of parenting as part of the educational curriculum, and, when we realise our children are a living treasure, and, a gift to the world, and, when
    we DUMP MATERIALISM, and enjoy the beauty of the world around us, the cultures and nations that enrich us, money cannot buy these treasures, they are priceless. Also we MUST ABOLISH ADOPTION, it is family devastation, family annihilation, when nations PUT THEIR CHILDREN above all else, and guard jealously family preservation ,whether in wedlock or out of wedlock, these building blocks are the bastions that are the greatest of a nations foundation.

  4. Daniel, Of course you would feel sorry for her, my apologies if I sounded harsh, but what you witnessed is the harsh reality of this fast materialistic world, that has not found yet that the greatest INVESTMENT for a nation, is to HONOUR MOTHERHOOD and invest in such. This poor woman, has her life ordered for her, her time taken from her, and her time is limited in investing in her family, the fruits of this materialism is RICHES, LIFE STYLE, which takes precedence to the rich joy of family, being valued. ….BOY O’ Boy do I get such fierce harsh criticism for speaking like I do, in todays equal opportunity, politically correct world, but you know what,( I WAS BUILT ON THE CLYDE) meaning that on the river Clyde, the worlds greatest and most robust ships were built, and can take any storm, in the worst of the seas, loosing your precious first baby to adoption makes you as hard as tungsten, and you would fight Goliath, as NOTHING matters anymore, because adoption has destroyed who you were, you don this mantle, a tragic persona forms, you fight with the world on a daily basis, an inbuilt internal lion is who you become, you even fight with your shadow, the PAIN eternal pain fuels this persona. When my youngest was 16, I went back to college, and my life skills became my profession, I am a N.N.E.B.S.(National Nanny Educational Board of Scotland.) with a diploma in pre-five child-care and education, in other words I am a State Registered Nursery Nurse, I spent 15 years working solely with teenage mums, registered alcoholic mums/substance abuse mums, and NEVER had one single adoption, I still see my mums and their adult children today, MONEY could not buy what I experienced, my skills I passed onto this generation, that had no family network support at their time of crisis. I have, the JOY sheer JOY of meeting occasionally my mums and their adult children, FAMILY PRESERVATION prevailed. When these mums were in crisis, government funding meant I provided wrap around care, ie; /parenting skills/budgeting skills/ domestic skills, and ALL my mums are now passing this onto their children, these mums have had a service provided that should be spread out across the world.

  5. just a mom... says:

    For such boys their only hope is to go to war one day…. And war is their only chance to get that ‘sense of incredible closeness’….of “brotherhood”…That’s what war feels like. To thém, that is. The very best they’ll ever know.

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