It’s the perfect blue skies that always remind me of that morning eleven years ago now. The skies and the air feel the same and that’s always what takes me back.
Last year was the big 10th anniversary of September 11th 2001 that also marked my ten years in New York that inspired more lengthy reflections. My feelings about the political and emotional circumstances around this day have not changed much since last year and the same feeling are echoed even further back. I’m tired of war and tired of patriotism and ready for real critical reflection, justice and peace. Searching in my old files, I found this piece I wrote about September 11 in 2003:
“On that morning language failed… In those moments of not knowing, not being able to articulate what was going on on a massive scale, I knew that never again could I believe in a narrow idea of “truth.” No singular narrative could ever capture that, or any experience. Of course, since then I’ve witnessed many attempts to manipulate these diverse and disparate narratives into one master narrative. A narrative that believes in an idea of “America” as benevolent while at the same time baying for vengeance…
Remembering September 11th is a reminder to me of how the damage done by violence of any kind is permanent. Whether that violence is an act of war, abuse, police brutality, or not having food, housing or medical care, or is emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological. These types and acts of violence are not the same, but the systems that perpetuate them are similar and inter-related… Because it continues to haunt me I know I need to oppose domination and oppression, and the acts of violence that feed them, everywhere. I feel I must do this in order for healing to be possible. Healing is possible, even though the effects of violence stay with us. I believe this because I feel everyone’s life needs to be about more than just survival.”
Reading this now I still stand behind the politics and emotions expressed in that piece. However, I think, I have found a way to heal by slowly, deliberately and stubbornly building a life in this city. I have worked hard to find health and creativity and to inspire that in others. I still struggle with how best I can help contribute to a city that’s a just and beautiful place to live for all and how I can support and engage my own creativity, but I feel my small daily contributions and actions strive towards these ideals.
My life, and New York City, is obviously so different than it was eleven years ago. I had no idea how to picture myself at 31 at that time. Being an adult seemed impossibly far away with such a looming and intense event in the foreground. Looking back today I can say that the 20 year old me who witnessed those tragic events from my 6th floor dorm room in Union Square would be pleased with the 31 year old I have become looking at two towers of light rising into the sky in remembrance and tribute from Brooklyn.