Saturday, September 11, 2004

Department of Light-Inspired Thoughts

Just a quick posting before what's left of this year's 9/11 disappears:

As I was walking from our apartment in Greenpoint to meet Clare for dinner at Teddy's in Williamsburg last night, I couldn't stop looking up in the sky at the twin beams of the Tribute in Light, a temporary art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center from March 11 to April 14, 2002, to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack (see also this amazing 360-degree panorama movie of the installation). They turned it on again yesterday at dusk, and it's on again tonight -- I can see it when I look out our front windows.

I was thinking to myself what a beautiful and approriate memorial it is; but the very next thought I had, thinking back to that day three years ago, and to how much has changed since then, was, You know what? The terrorists *have* won; they have won, or succeeded, if you prefer, in the sense that that single act had an impact on every sphere of American life. (Just to give one example out of the many available: Three years ago, how many people in the United States had any opinion at all about terrorism? Or Islam? I know I didn't. Nowadays I think you would be hard pressed to find an American who didn't have a strong opinion about both topics.)

After dinner we went by Enid's, our local, to hang with friends, and despite being on the verge of walking out of the bar at 1 o'clock, we somehow ended up staying until quarter to 4. I woke up this morning at 9:30, and went out to the living room to lie on the couch and finish reading yesterday's newspaper.

Just down the block from our building is an American Legion post, which of course had some sort of 9/11 memorial ceremony going on, featuring a medley of "inspirational" music, and despite the hokiness of much of it, in particular the now-ubiquitous bagpipe version of "Amazing Grace," in the middle of reading an article in yesterday's Times about the people who jumped out of the windows of the World Trade Towers, as my eyes fell on the words "Some held hands as they jumped," I suddenly broke out sobbing. Just like that; out of nowhere. Tears just streaming out of my eyes, down my cheeks and onto my neck. About a minute and a half, with a feeling of deep pain inside my chest. And then it passed.