Letter from the Vineyard 09 11 2018 All kinds of memories…

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Evening is about to slip down upon us, a couple of minutes earlier than last night.  The twilight is misty with fog rolling in from South Beach toward my little cottage, scattered with bins, boxes and suitcases as I gather myself up to leave for the season.

Four bins are going to Joyce and Jeffrey’s garage against the possibility I will return next “season,” a thing I am considering seriously as I had serious fun in the bookstore this year especially since I told one employee she did not have my permission to be disrespectful to me.  She has been good; there have been times when she is about to say something and thinks better of it.

Last night, I had a long and good farewell dinner with Vlad, the young man from Romania who has taught me so much this summer.  We feasted at The Atlantic, drank cocktails and talked of life and things.  My parting gift was a passport case in hopes for many good long journeys in his life.

One of his gifts to me was he enjoyed my sense of humor.  Au revoir, Vlad!  Au revoir!

 

And the day that is ending is the 17th anniversary of 9/11; Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” has been released, his damning exegesis of the Trump Administration.  I doubt there was any coincidence to the timing.

 

Today, as I was driving while erranding, I could not listen to the memorial reporting as I feared I start sobbing.

That day is alive inside of me and will be until I die.  In past ‘letters” I have written about my feelings.  Nothing has changed; it is alive and painful and inspiring and terrifying now as much as then, a little softer around the edges, perhaps, but not too much so if I could not listen to the reportage.

There is a part of my that will forever stand on the morning of September 12th, with Spring Street in Soho looking like the last shot of the film “On the Beach;” not the television remake but the one in the 1950’s with Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire – a street empty of life, with sheets of paper whipping with the wind, somewhere, anywhere with the smell of burnt plastic and death all around me.

That morning is the strongest mental snapshot I have of the tragedy – a street empty of human beings, paper drifting in the wind like sagebrush across a Dakota highway.

 

The bookstore sells a child’s series called “I survived…”    …the Hindenburg Disaster, the siege of Warsaw, the Johnstown Flood, the Battle of Gettysburg.  It would appear there is no disaster they have left behind.

There were a group of parents who wouldn’t let their children buy the “I Survived 9/11” because I think it was too hard for them.  Every one of them, I would bet, were in the city that day and they don’t want their children to be scarred as they are.

None of those kids were alive but the parents were and are still wrestling with what happened.  As am I, obviously.

 

Just under three thousand died that day.

More than three times that number of first responders are struggling with cancers resulting from being there.  The number who succumb to those cancers rises every day.

A few days after 9/11 I went to my doctor because I was having trouble breathing and he gave me an inhaler, having ordered extras for people like me as soon as the Towers tumbled.  Occasionally, I wonder did I breathe in something that is now a time bomb ticking in my body?  Should some kind of study be done of everyone living within the stream of toxins released, particularly Manhattan and New Jersey?

Today NASA released pictures taken from the International Space Station that day.  You can look at them here.

Seventeen years ago, a bright and glorious Tuesday, I was prepping for a conference call, working to get things finished before I left for ten days in Greece and the world changed forever.

My head bows in memory.  A soft prayer rises.

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