Letter From New York Sept 18 2009

Or: as it seems to me…

September 11, 2001 came into the world as one of the most achingly beautiful days that nature ever gave the New York area. Into it flew death, destruction and the end of the world as we knew it – in smoke, dust, rending of steel and glass, terror and tears much of the fabric of the world was torn. It seemed that way then and still seems so when I review the world in silence, objectively. In THE GO BETWEEN, Pinter’s line was: the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. The time before 9/11 is a foreign country, we did things differently there.

September 11, 2009 dawned as one of the dreariest days in a summer of dreary days; dark, rainy, funereal – a day befitting a somber anniversary. Water pelted the windows of my bedroom. On the radio, I listened to a woman re-live her 9/11 experience, resulting in me reliving mine. There had been a dread I felt as this anniversary approached; I did not think we would escape unscathed. I feared some terrible event happening, the weight of the possibility infused my actions, an extra burden to carry as I passed through life with a heightened sensitivity to negative possibility.

Thankfully, the day was busy, full of business, things to be done, distractions, meetings, scurrying from one end of Manhattan to another and then…it was time to go home to the cottage. As we all know now, nothing happened, no building fell, no one died, nothing…thank God.

However, a scant three days latter the NYPD conducted a raid in Queens, carting off trunk loads of evidence from an apartment there What the papers are buzzing about is that this group in Queens may be an Al Qaida cell, planning some event with hydrogen peroxide bombs.

Hydrogen peroxide? Isn’t that what Marilyn Monroe used to get that color of blonde she had? Isn’t it what we put on our cuts and scrapes? It’s also what the London bombers used in 2005 to wreck havoc to the public transport system and to kill dozens. I have learned hydrogen peroxide and Tang can be a fatal combination. Tang? A childhood drink given “stardust” by the Space Program is now an ingredient in an explosive cocktail easily transportable by backpack? The past is a foreign country, indeed.

I don’t know if the men being investigated are guilty of anything. It seems there were no arrests though I suspect every one of them is being followed everywhere while evidence is sifted to see if they, indeed, were doing something nefarious. Regardless, the story underscores the anxiety I felt in the run-up to the 9/11 Anniversary. If there are chops to this story, part of what is so disturbing is that this is a group of Afghani Al-Qaida, something not seen before and, perhaps, motivated by a desire for tribal revenge for familial deaths in Afghanistan by American forces – revenge seems to be required for the death of relatives and knows no geographical limits. Ah, another part of the tangled web we’ve woven in the years since 9/11.

Yet the world goes on. We all keep putting one foot in front of another and mind our daily business, dealing with the Great Recession, the demands of jobs and clients, needs of friends and lovers, the vagaries of the strange weather, all the things that make up the fabric of everyday life despite the background noise of potential terror groups and all the frightening things unleashed upon our world since that achingly beautiful day that changed the world forever – a day that was a tipping point if ever there was one.

So this is the new reality, the new country in which we are living and there will be more days in which a quiet dread will come upon us because we know absolutely there are those out there that hate us enough to kill us while at the same time we must find the courage to embrace life and find meaning in it as we accept catastrophe is a greater possibility that ever.

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