Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

It was warmer that day

September in New York City can be beautiful. Today is. The air is crisp and cool and the sun shines out of a nearly cloudless blue sky. There are still green leaves and flowers, and it just glows with the change of seasons and a new year - both for school and the Jewish one, both with promises of clean slates.

It was so similar that Tuesday five years ago, except it was warmer on that day.

We saw the best and worst that humans can do that day - we saw how some would use others as weapons, and how others would die rather than let that happen. We saw how some could plan death for thousands, if not more - no one knew the buildings would collapse down instead of fall like trees - and others could rush in save what they could.

There was a lot of pain that day, and shock, and disbelief. I know many people spent the day just staring at the endless repeats on television. I spent it on IRC, numb. The phones weren't working, no one came in to find a place to live. And the sky held smoke and birds and military planes.

And the words that came out of that day - the stuff that makes us human - was hope. The hope itself probably varied, but we all had hopes that day that maybe this would mean something - that the world would change for the better. That we'd see the horror of violence and intolerance and that we'd never want to repeat it. That, to quote Gail Simone, the terrorists "Had aimed at the heart of America. They missed." That we'd stay true to our values as Americans. That the people who'd showed themselves as heroes that day would remain so.

I wish, so much, that it had been so. But humans, being humans, don't change so much, and when the horror fades (even though this horror will never really fade) they go back to being who they were, and maybe we let fear take over, and people used this fear and horror to their own ends, for their own gain.

I know we came together as a world and a nation that day, and I know that there were already rumblings of intolerance under the fear. I know that my own involvement was less that many in my city - friends had narrow escapes, others were in nearby buildings, my husband's brother-in-law was on a plane from Europe and spend a few days in a school gym in Canada before returning to Israel, the cousin of a friend was on one of the planes and two more friends we hadn't met yet were in the buildings themselves. No one we knew had died. But it was my city - and you know how we New Yorkers feel about our city. (And it's why we understand the anger of those of New Orleans, because we know how it is to love a city with all its flaws and glories.)

I know things were happening behind the scenes in our government which, if true, make me frightened and angry. I know the world is not better than it was, and that it makes less sense than ever.

This year there have been movies and miniseries and documentaries, and I have avoided them all because it was too close to home.

And the memorial I see is a brilliant late-summer day that's maybe a bit cooler but no less beautiful.

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