It is just a day. Why don’t they understand this? Yes, it’s a Tuesday. The same third day of the week it was when it happened. But this doesn’t mean that it will happen again. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t live, goddammit. It doesn’t mean that we should deny our collective essence, our great possibilities, our joie de vivre, our healthy skepticism, our intolerance for bullshit. Six years, neighbors! How much longer do you need? Why do you silently cling to something that was terrible but that is sufficiently enough in the past? Why do you use this day to skirt human accomplishment? To do something kind, to do something amazing, to give someone a beneficial kick in the ass.
I’m new to this sullen ritual. I wasn’t here when it happened. Now, I suppose, I am a New Yorker. Or maybe not. Perhaps one becomes a New Yorker after a year’s residency. I haven’t yet received the glittery certificate in the mail. I don’t know. The only city that I ever sufficiently attached myself to was San Francisco. That was a hard town to leave. But what does place really mean in the end? I was in Hamburg, Germany when the planes hit the towers.
That young lady who knocked over a cup of coffee on our table twice in five minutes. Naturally clumsy? I don’t think so. She’s doing her damnedest to divagate her wiry body into her seat. Did she not apologize or acknowledge us this morning because today was The Day? I’ve found that New Yorkers thank me more than San Franciscans (perhaps because holding the doors open for strangers and the like might be something of an exotic etiquette around here). When even a minor solecism in etiquette goes down, there is often nobody more vocal than a New Yorker.
But not today. Silence. As if expecting the inevitable.
Today, in New York, we all subscribe to John Donne’s maxim, subsisting in frightened bubbles. New Yorkers are reluctant to talk. They are on guard. In case it happens again. In case the collective empathy that they keep inside must come out, because the city and those that live in it must heal, must persevere.
But I am not afraid. Because I know damn well that there aren’t any guarantees in life. Not afraid of the increased police presence in my neighborhood. Not afraid of any bastard, within or without, trying to strike us down. And I will stand defiantly against this fear, remaining as vigilant and as vocal as I can about my country’s countless indiscretions and remaining as happy as I can about life.
As to my fellow neighbors, well, I don’t know. Perhaps tomorrow the spirit of New York will return.
© 2007, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.