The Unbearable Banishment: Two anniversaries. One dark. One light.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two anniversaries. One dark. One light.

This weekend here in NY/NJ, everyone is focused on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Is it like that where you live, or is it the third story in the newscast? It looks to me like the overwhelming display of grief is reopening a lot of old wounds. But it's necessary. It's right. The memorial. The special programing on TV. The visiting dignitaries. It has to be done.

Mrs. Wife and I lived in the East Village, less than a mile from the WTC. We both worked in midtown and had to walk home because the transit system was shut down. She was six months pregnant and was wearing terrible shoes that chewed her feet up. We had to stop so she could rest. The streets were choked with people trying to get home. It's the only time I saw New Yorkers not complain about being inconvenienced. The air stunk like burning electricity for weeks after. South of Houston St., where we lived, was a militarized zone and we had to show ID and pass an armed checkpoint in order to get home. But we were alive and so were all of our friends, and that's what mattered.

Architectural purists complained about the design of the World Trade Center but I loved it. I would ride my bike there all the time. If you stood with your back against one of the towers and looked up, an optical illusion made the tower seem as if it were bending over you. Even more so if you had a few good bong hits in you. They were astonishingly tall buildings. When flying home, those two towers were the first things I'd see. Hello, fellas! It's good to be back!

Here's a very good exhibit that's up in Bryant Park for only two days. There are 2,819 empty chairs lined up across the lawn; one for each life lost in the attack. They're all pointed south where the World Trade Center once stood.

Our wedding anniversary is 9/11. Not THE 9/11. Today is 12 years. For the first few years after the attacks, I didn't feel that being in a celebratory mood was respectful or right. I feel awful that some families were torn asunder and that my beautiful shining city has a big gash in it. But I'm reclaiming 9/11 to celebrate my marriage. 12 years is a pretty damn good run. A lot of folks don't make it this far, but we did.

I lived in New York City, but 9/11 is so much more than a terrorist attack to me.

* * *

The annual 9/11 remembrance has given rise to a new sensation. In addition to the sad reflection and thoughtful meditation, 9/11 also serves as a reminder that autumn is upon us. It's the opening weekend of the football season. The weather turns cool. The theater season gets underway. The kids are back in school. It's time to swap out my summer clothes.

Also, it's the final week that this place, a New Jersey summer institution, is open.

Mrs. Wife and 9-Year Old Daughter place an order.


Blogger Florida Girl In Sydney said...

It's so weird not being in the US today. It's so weird to think I did once get stoned and hang out around the twin towers... though I can't remember if I ever leaned on them.

We have a niece whose birthday is today, something I'm sure has to be very difficult as a 12-ish year old.

Anyway, today I wish I was there.

September 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I watched the New York ceremony and then watched the London one - both quite different but equally moving.
I definitely think you can give yourself permission to take your anniversary back. It's time.
Happy Anniversary and may you have many more.

September 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

i thought of you two this morning, sugar and i smiled! so many memories for each of us, but today, i am glad for you and mrs. wife! i wish you both many years of love and happiness together! xoxoxoxo

September 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

FGIS: The Trade Center twin towers were so other-worldly that they made for the perfect place to get stoned. I hear.

Pat: Thanks for your good wishes. Can you do a blog post on matrimonial longevity tips?

sav: It's not as though we needed it, but 9/11 was a real binding agent for us. The horrible thing we shared.

September 11, 2011 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Ellie said...

I think we are all remembering all over the world.

September 12, 2011 at 4:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes me too sad. I'm glad the tenth anniversary is almost over, I want to move on

September 12, 2011 at 4:52 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

Well it's only been 32 years. I don't want to tempt fate:)

September 12, 2011 at 5:23 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ellie: I tend to live in a vacuum, so I wasn't sure how much attention was being paid outside of the tri-state area.

nurse: I understand how you feel. But it seems like the people around here really needed that pause. 10 years! My god!

Pat: Now you're just being modest.

September 12, 2011 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Adam Kenny said...

Happy Anniversary (a day late). I am gladdened a bit whenever I learn of someone who has a good thing associated with this particualar date on the calendar, such as a birthday or an anniversary. Makes me feel as if we are reclaiming the date - just a bit - from the sh*theads who murdered everyone ten years ago.

September 12, 2011 at 7:14 AM  
Blogger Sausage Fingers said...

There is so much to be said about the anniversary and the sadness still haunts me when the images are replayed. I choose to remember in silence without the produced talking heads on every station....
The picture of Bryant park is brilliant and I hate to use that word for such a solemn occasion but the photo is very moving

September 12, 2011 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Pearl said...

The empty chairs give me goosebumps. Just small enough for me to truly see: all those empty seats, all the people that will never sit in them.

9/11 is my only son's birthday, and we've reclaimed it as well.

Thanks for the view from your end: the thought of your wife, six months along and in shoes more fit for office work, has put a picture in this Minnesota woman's head that will stay...


September 12, 2011 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

AK: Thanks, very much. This morning I've been listening to feedback from family members who visited the memorial and they all seem very, very pleased. That place is going to become a major tourist mecca here in NYC. I can't wait to go. Aside from the respect that must be paid, it looks like a design win.

SF: The Bryant Park display provided a realistic look at how many people were murdered. As sad as it was, I couldn't take my eyes off it. The late afternoon sun played off of it beautifully.

Pearl: What a beautiful comment. Thanks, very much. We were worried about her being so pregnant and breathing the foul air for weeks and weeks but everything worked out okay. For us. And happy birthday to your son.

September 12, 2011 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Happy anniversary Mr and Mrs. UB, yesterday was my birthday, i took it back a long time ago, in fact i put up a post yesterday about what i did that day 10 years ago, but who really wants to know what a hoodlum was doing that day, so i took it down.

September 12, 2011 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Kono: Happy birthday and thanks. I tried to follow the link to that post but it's a dead end. Put it back up! I'd like to read it. [Aside: Big Ben pooped his pants. Still a fan?]

September 12, 2011 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger InvisibleWoman said...

Just so you know - there was mass coverage on UK TV all weekend. I avoided most of it - too sad. On my one and only trip to New York in 1995, we wandered around the WTC and marvelled at the sky scrapers. My Dad died in October 2001 and my sister had a hell of a time getting a flight from Chicago to the UK. Definitely time to reclaim the day (though its 11/9 in Britain - always confusing!)

September 12, 2011 at 2:56 PM  

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