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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Thursday, July 28, 2005

a brooklyn wedding

The wedding was in the Picnic House, a beautifully-windowed 1920's building in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

The bride and groom, like so many Brooklynites before them, stood beneath a Chuppah and professed their vows. A gorgeous day settled into what became a warm and glorious night.

We did what people do at weddings. We ate. We drank. We enjoyed the company of old friends. I danced a cumbia, and got away with it. I attempted a salsa, and got my ass laughed off the floor.

It was a good crowd. Yes, present among us were left-wingers....labor organizers, journalists, professors and noted documentarians. But you wouldn't have known that from looking at us. It was like any New York wedding. Kids running around screaming. Sweaty adults weary with laughter and drink. A mix of people.

The Picnic House overlooks the Long Meadow of Prospect Park, and I stepped outside onto the terrace to visit with my friend, Tom. It was dark out, and an acrid, burning smell hung in the air. We looked at each other and didn't say a word.

The Twin Towers, or I should say the burning rubble of the Twin Towers, were still burning...and a wind had carried the smoke to Brooklyn.

Such was life in New York City in October, 2001.

Someone once told me that losing the Twin Towers, metaphorically, was like losing your two front teeth. Your tongue kept looking for them and they just weren't there.

For me, I recall taking breaks from work in the late-80's on the park benches in the plaza beneath the Towers. All those people, all those office workers...the throng that would go in and out of those buildings on any given work day. And the way the buildings themselves stretched up into the sky. People worked up there. It was unbelievable.

I didn't know anyone who died.

One friend worked at Windows on the World. She survived because she wasn't at work that day; so many of her coworkers did not. Another friend saw the first plane, before it hit, from Greenwich Village, flying way too low over the city. Another friend's brother was walking out of the subway when the second plane hit; he could feel the rumble of the impact. A colleague of mine's children were at home that day in Tribeca; they saw the whole thing from their living room window.

I remember, one night before the wedding, sitting with friends in Brooklyn. One of them said he was walking on the Promenade after it happened and had found a laminated airline safety sheet. He said a rain of office paper descended on Brooklyn after the Towers collapsed.

I'm not a New Yorker anymore. I did not go through that day. But I did walk through a New York City still papered with the faces of the missing. I did listen as folks talked about what it was like...how, in the days and weeks after the attack, people came together, and, like some giant, monolithic, lumbering organism, the city slowly decided to move on.

As far as I know, most New Yorkers aren't the kind to talk about 9/11 all the time. That's not their way. I guess that's why we haven't heard these stories over and over again.

As far as the talking goes, that's been for other people.

4 Comments:

  • I'm glad u set up your own blog. Your talent for writing is top-notch. I visited Manhattan last January for the first time in my life and felt an emptiness that hit deep when I came upon the construction site; even though I'm not a New Yorker, it is an emotion I will never forget.

    By Blogger Man Eegee, at 10:28 PM  

  • Thanks man eegee....

    appreciate that.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 10:31 PM  

  • cool blog! thanks for the link. (And thanks, Robin.)

    awesome post re the wedding and 9/11.

    By Blogger Danyel, at 7:26 PM  

  • Great post, kid oakland.

    I love New York. My wife and I spent our honeymoon there. Probably not a very modern honeymoon destination, but considering we married two weeks after our first date we couldn't waste too much time picking a honeymoon destination. So when The New York Times ran an editorial about 10 days after the attacks saying if you wanted to help New York, come as a tourist, I packed up my bag and went for the weekend. I didn't look for a hotel with desperation rates. I just took the first hotel tourism recommended. I went out to eat and overtipped at every place I went. I met an old girlfriend I remained friends with who works at the Times because when the attacks were still raw you just wanted to see people you cared about to make sure they were doing all right.

    But New York recovered. I spent the first anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks on vacation at Kitty Hawk. We hadn't planned to be at the place where the Wright brothers made their first flight, but there we were. Seemed oddly appropriate place to be though it was by chance we were there because we meant to be there a day earlier but a tropical storm kept us indoors.

    But we got over it. We (the wife and I) still talk about how important it is for bin Laden to be caught and made to do a perp walk. It's a nice fantasy, but sadly with the Bush cult not caring to capture bin Laden it just remains a fantasy.

    The people who haven't gotten over it and weren't even directly affected by it are holding on to it because they got nothing else in their lives of magnitude or import to hold on to. They live dreary, unexamined lives and they cling to their fantasy of Bush being a strong leader because fantasy is all they've got.

    By Blogger Carnacki, at 7:45 PM  

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