Love (New York) Thursday
(For those of you who receive the blog via e-mail, there's YouTube clip of a wonderful Stevie Wonder song here called "Love's In Need of Love Today." YouTube clips don't travel via e-mail subscription for some reason.)
It's September 11th.
I've written about September 11th before (and here and here) but never as a New Yorker.
And wow, it's very different to see it from the perspective of a New Yorker.
You know, I don't consider myself a bona fide New Yorker yet --it hasn't even been six months since we moved here. But I have come to have a deep affection for New Yorkers, as a species. (Well, okay, with the exception of the cabbie who cheated me out of $20 and the crack head guy in the grocery store and maybe one or two of the drivers.)
The thing about the New Yorkers I've met is how genuine they are --truly, what you see is what you get up here. Whereas in the South, I would frequently find myself wondering what so-and-so meant when she said THAT, up here, I KNOW what so-and-so meant when she said THAT and not only that, I almost always know WHY she said that. Plus, New Yorkers are so CHEERFUL, it seems to me--and even the ones who are trying to mess with you seem to have the attitude, "Well, you can't blame a guy for trying" when you call them on it. No harm, no foul. They're an energetic, engaged, happy people and you know what else I love? They TALK. They're TALKERS. The average New Yorker will use more words ordering breakfast than I do in an entire day.
And they talk FAST. They DRIVE faster. They'll flip you a bird as soon as look at you in traffic, but they'll give you a big hug and a kiss as soon as look at you any place else. Everyone here has ethnic heritage that they're proud of (it's like running into the cast of My Big Fat Greek Wedding everywhere), even if it's only that they hail from Jersey. They're proud of where they came from and they'd be glad to tell you about it.
I don't know, I don't think I'm describing them very well. Y'all come on up here and see for yourself. You'll love them, really. They'll make you smile.
And, see, once I met (really MET) New Yorkers, the magnitude of what happened on 9/11/2001 really became obvious. It was a sucker punch of such horrific proportions that it changed life up here in the deepest, most profound way. This area of the country is so densely populated that everyone here knew someone who perished in the attacks. Everyone here can quote the statistics: the number of civilians killed. The number of firefighters gone. Everyone has a story of where they were and where their loved ones were when the towers came down.
I find that I am just heartsick and outraged over the attacks on 9/11 in a way I didn't know to be before I moved here. Because these are no longer anonymous faces, you know? These are my people.
And I think I finally understand something else, too. I've been sad that the schools here don't welcome parents. Someone told me that this has been the rule since September 11, 2001--the schools shut down and just never opened back up. I think I get it now. Because today I was driving Jane (7) to school and thinking about the attacks and I ...wanted to turn around and head back home with her. Just... hold her close and not let her out of my sight.
The thing that keeps coming to me is how vulnerable we all are--no matter where we live and no matter how hard we try to lock things down. There just has to be a better way to respond than to turn our lives into holding cells, waiting for the next attack to come. There has to be a better way to respond than to send even more of our people away to die in a war/occupation/whatever is happening in Iraq. There has to be a better way than politics as usual.
I don't know what that better way is, though.
The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
We all must take
If love and peace you treasure
Then you'll hear me when I say
Love's in need of love today
love's in need of love today
Send yours in right away
Hate's goin' round
hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
stop it please
Before it's gone too far
gone too far
That is so perfect. I think I just "got" New Yorkers. The hug-you-or-flip-you-the-bird chip was hard for me to understand before.
And I am with you on the vulnerability thing. It's a good day for national introspection. And this is a very good post.
It's an occupation, by the way.
9/11 was so personal and overwhelming here, that when we went to a friend's out-of-state wedding later that month, it was like we could suddenly breathe again. The heaviness and sorrow lifted a bit, just for a moment.
I'm with Miri, I get New Yorkers better now, just because of the BFGW analogy.
I would love to come to the big city and meet you and your new peeps!
I was here on 9/11, I know people who never came home, and many more who just made it. The schools are not the only things that changed here that day, you can no longer take your car on the Staten Island Ferry, some roads in my neighborhood are permenantly closed because they are close to a dam that could be blown-up etc.
I'm sorry you didn't know this place before it all happened.
God bless New York and all the wonderful New Yorkers!