Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk’

Letter from Claverack 09 05 2016 On a Labor Day…

September 6, 2016

It is evening.  The floodlights illuminate the creek and we are losing daylight at the rate of about two minutes a day.  A month ago it would not have been this dark.  It is Labor Day, the unofficial official end of summer.  We start with Memorial Day and we end with Labor Day.  And Labor Day is ending as I sit here tapping out words on my laptop.

Tomorrow I start teaching and I have now pushed past my anxiety and am looking forward to the moment when I walk into class.  Oh, okay, ask me in the morning.  I am sure I will have anxiety in the morning but I will do it.  I’ve agreed to do it so therefore I must do it.

I have spent most of my time this weekend at home, secluded in the cottage, enjoying my home and being alone, having a good time with myself.  Yesterday, though, I went out to Larry Divney’s guest house, located a couple of miles from his own home.  There was a great and grand barbeque which included gluten free things, as that is what I am working to do.  Larry knows and so he took care of it, as is the way with Larry.

During this weekend, I have not paid particular attention to the world.  What is going on right now is redundant.  Syria continues to be a catastrophe.  Trump and Hillary continue their march across the nation, each besmirched by their own failings.  I will vote for Hillary because the idea of a Trump Presidency sends me to thoughts of expatriate life.  While flawed, deeply flawed, she is at least sane and not bombastic.  Could neither party come up with less flawed candidates?  Apparently not, because this is what we are dealing with…

We are also dealing with the first real beginnings of climate change.  Towns like Norfolk, VA are experiencing flooding that threatens them.  They are not the only ones.  It has, I am afraid, begun.

The Governor of Texas vetoed a bill to give assistance to the mentally ill based, at least in part, on a group of Scientologists who told him mental illness was a falsehood.  Texas gets the Stupid Award of the week.  Mental illness is not false; it does exist.  It is a plague upon the land and can we not find a place to help these poor souls?  Not in Texas.

The night has descended.  I alleviate it with my floodlights but it is here.  The fall is arriving.  And while I look forward to the fall and winter with Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will miss this soft summer and its delights.





Letter From New York September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

I am sitting on Labor Day afternoon at the bar of Café du Soleil, my favorite Bistro on the Upper West Side, a place I know because of my friend Lionel, who is sitting next to me, who is chatting with other regulars here while I work on my letter.

I have been doing my best this weekend to avoid writing my letter. The reason? It is the week leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the city is prepping for it and I am not prepared for it. I have been having harbingers of the anniversary all this year. In Norfolk, VA I heard jets that took me back to that night and I have been running from the memories since then. They are burned in my soul and I feel that day intensely when I think about it. That’s why Norfolk was hard.

Monday was hard too. My brother was in town and before we went to breakfast we wandered through the Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle where there is an exhibit on the heroes of 9/11, photos of those who lived. The policemen, the firemen, the pilots who flew the sorties over the city that are now so indelibly in my mind that the sound of those jets, the F-14’s, will take me back to that night, all their pictures are in the public areas of the Time-Warner Center and, today, reading them, I was about to start crying when my phone rang and I was dragged back into reality.

I was changed by that day; everyone was changed by that day and to think that ten years have gone by is hard, almost impossible. Could that much time have gone by? Or was it not in another lifetime that all this happened, another world that isn’t really real? But it is real. It happened. I was there. I felt the earth shake when the first plane hit the first building. My partner called me, asked me: do you know what’s going on? No. Turn on the TV. I did. The world was changing in front of my eyes. Our eyes. We all saw it, thanks to live television.

So I have had a hard time facing the fact it’s the tenth anniversary of 9/11. I am having a hard time having that day come back so immediately into my life. I am permanently changed by that day. I am, somehow, a little, scarred by that day. I didn’t lose anyone but I lost the world in which I lived. We’re not the same. The world is not the same. And I am sorry we are not the same.

It will be interesting to see how this week plays out as we move toward the anniversary. We cannot “celebrate” this anniversary. We can acknowledge it; we will – everyone will.
It was the seminal moment of this part of American history and I was there. I walked those streets with old man death. There was the smell of death and burnt plastic and my street was full of papers that were blown down from the Twin Towers. And I will, next week, walk those streets, will remember, will sort my feelings from those days and see what sense I make of it all.

I will let you all know. I don’t know how many tears are between this moment and next week – I just know that I know that I was here, that I, in the first person, experienced 9/11, have a set of memories from that day, was at the Pearl Harbor of my time, and that I am still experiencing that day because that kind of experience never dies in one who lives through it.

My brother told me in the days following that he was sorry that I was in New York when it happened. There was no other place I would have been. I was here. I was at the point of history. It was hard but it doesn’t get more real than that.