Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11, 2001

It's hard to believe it was seven years ago this morning. I was working for my dad at the time, in Carlstadt, NJ. I was broke, single and had just gotten back from Burning Man, where I had a fairly weird, and not-at-all typical or fun time. I was the guitarist in a band, Connecticut, and was doing a lot of improv comedy. I was 29 years old. I didn't even know Randi, although she was doing improv too, and we had probably been in McManus's a few of the same times together. (McManus is, or was, THE bar where improvisers, and the occasional comedy celebrity, would hang out after shows. Of course several of the former became the latter over time.)

I lived in Hell's Kitchen, and took the bus out of Port Authority every morning, to get to work by 9:00 a.m. That morning nothing was unusual, at least to my groggy head. I got on the bus, which rolled through the Lincoln Tunnel, as usual. Strange to think that if I had looked out my window that morning I would've seen one of the Towers burning. But I didn't.

Instead I got off at Patterson Plank Road, as I always did. As I was getting off the bus I heard the bus driver's radio engage: "All tunnels have been closed."

Hmm, that's weird, I thought, as I walked to work.

After a reminiscence like that it's kind of hard to get up the mojo to talk about how well Stella slept last night, which she did, or that I slept well too, which I did. I went to bed at 8:20 p.m. upon Randi's suggestion when I fell asleep as I spoke to her. She roused me. I had immediately dreamed of a Burger King Chicken Sandwich that was most unusual.

"It had a personality," I said to my wife. She broke up laughing, and I did too.

"Babe," she said, full of concern, "you need to get some rest." And off to sleep we went. Stella was, amazingly, already there, and would stay there most of the night.

Yeah, it's a different world today than seven years ago. I have a theory. The theory is that decades are cultural events as much as time events. The cultural baggage of the prior decade often carries into the new. The Sixties didn't end on January 1, 1970. They ended, possibly, at Altamount.

The 1970s, which I can speak about with more authority, even if I was young, didn't end until Reagan was put into office in 1981. The 1980s didn't end until Nirvana hit #1.

And the 1990s ended on Sept. 11, 2001.

Until that point we Americans were in one of our periodic bubbles of self-containment and satisfaction. A certain smugness had set it in some corners, particularly in regards to politics. The 2000 election was marked by Al Gore losing, when he should've won in a landslide. Times were good, the prior eight years were prosperous. But conservatives hated him for obvious reasons, and those on the far left hated him too. There was said to be "not a dime's worth of difference" between him and George W. Bush, and many echoed those sentiments.

I did not. And now we see how different things could've been.

It's the political season again, which is why I'm bringing up this subject in the context of a post about Sept. 11. Because it's become, in many ways, a political day. What we did in response. What we DIDN'T do, too.

To see the latter all you have to do is drive by Ground Zero. It's still there, waiting.

But, for now, Stella is asleep in her crib, and the presidential race is tight, and I genuinely believe that Americans have all the information they need to make an informed choice for who should lead us. If they don't have the information it's not hard to find. In some ways presidential elections are the silly season, but the consequences are not silly at all.

Well, I don't have a lot more to say about that, but years later Sept. 11, is still an uneasy day. I didn't lose anyone close to me, thank god, but I did lose someone I knew, a little, through business. It was real, it happened. But it's also a work day, and a parenting day, and our lives have to keep going. So they have.

Seven years ago we were told to help fight the terrorists by shopping. In retrospect what a perfectly horrible, but apt, description of the lack of shared sacrifice across our nation, at all levels. Some paid more than others, a lot more. And it wasn't all in taxes.

No comments: