Six Weeks Later

Posted on February 12th, 2012 by Viveca in 9-11

Monday, October 22, 2001

It’s never going to get back to normal. Or rather, it changed what normal is.

Outside of New York, it’s just a political abstraction. A hot topic. In fact, whether we were going to go to war was a hotter topic than now that we’re in one. Some conversations are even about other things.

The rubble is still smoking. If the workers stand too long in one spot, their boots start to melt. You can see a lot downtown, and when the wind blows up, you can still smell it everywhere.

Last spring, I took the day off work, and Ivan and I went to the World Trade Center. We went to the indoor and outdoor observation decks. We walked below it and took pictures looking up. That night we went to see Dralion at Liberty State Park and took pictures of us with the towers behind us.

When he came to visit for my birthday we went back to see the rubble. Even blocks away the air hung heavy, and my eyes stung. Stores several blocks away and even facing the wrong way are still full of soot. Silent canvassers are handing out booklets. They look like information, but I’m pretty sure they’re all god so I don’t want any of it.

People from all over have sent in signs and letters, which are posted all over. Many are from children or small towns (on behalf of the whole town). Some are from corporations. Most are signed by lots of people, maybe all the employees. Several large banners say things like “FOXWOODS CASINO — a great place to gamble — SENDS NEW YORK ITS SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT.” Only in America do we advertise at a funeral. Why not cut to the chase? “FOXWOODS CASINO — a great place to spend your insurance benefits — STILL WANTS YOUR MONEY.”

I took lots of notes on things I wanted to add to this site, but now I’m just not feeling coherent. Here are a few observations.

The sidewalks around the UN are closed even to pedestrians.

Some residents are allowed back into their Battery Park City apartments, but they are advised to wear masks at all times even indoors.

At Laguardia, I spent over an hour and a half in lines to clear security. At the airport in Portland, I watched a SWAT team descend to confiscate a tiny nail clippers from a small, scared woman. In Chicago my plane was delayed while they removed some passengers and their baggage on the grounds that they might be a threat to us.

Everyone is tired and forgetful. My skin is bad, my nose is running, and my fingernails are breaking.

A catholic priest in the paper said the 5,000 missing have just changed forms of being so there was no tragedy. A muslim said the sins of the innocent are washed free at death. I don’t know if they make an innocent/not-guilty distinction.

An Al Qaeda spokesman said that as much as we Americans want to live for what we believe, they want to die for what they believe. The statement changes the nature of the war. Do you win by killing people who want to die? The man I’m watching with points out that there is no need for conflict since those goals align. We can live, and they can die.

29.1 million square feet of office space were destroyed — an area the size of the entire Columbus, Ohio, metropolitan area or the downtown of Chicago or Minneapolis. My dad points out that 29,100,000 sq ft = 1.0438189 sq mi = 668.0414050 acres. Over a mile — that’s a lot of offices.

Someone Jaime know said she knew exactly what this felt like because she’d had cancer twice. Jaime responded that she might have a better idea if she’d had cancer 6,000 times and died every time.

A parent at my sister’s school claimed to a teacher that it was much worse in Chicago than in New York because they were afraid they could be next.

A friend of mine’s mother came to visit to see how it really is here. She said she was so relieved to see the Empire State Building and the Chysler Building — that it would have been much harder for her personally if it had been one of those buildings. I guess she would have saved the Rembrandt and left the cat. Or saved the nice architecture and left the much-greater populated newer buildings.

I guess I’m still angry and sad. Go read about it somewhere else.

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