Observations on a week
A friend said to me the other day: remember that lunch we
had on September 10th?
He wouldnt remember it if it hadnt been that day,
the last day of the old world, the day before the Towers fell.
Its late and Ive just returned home from a long
meeting for Body Positive, the AIDS support organization on
whose Board I sit. The meeting ended and the two people, Felicia
and Colby, from the AIDS Institute in Albany who attended,
were getting ready to leave. Felicia, a former New Yorker,
said that she was going to walk over to the Trade Center site
as she had not seen it before. While she had been to New York,
she couldnt bring herself before now to go down there.
So the three of us walked over, saying good-bye to two others
at the subway entrance for the 1 and 9, both headed uptown.
We were blocks away when Felicia saw the lights that burn
brightly all through the night and she realized that the wall
of white ahead of us was where we were heading. Her words
were: oh my God!
We walked down and around the hole and I was reminded again
of how powerful it is for people seeing this for the first
time. For Felicia it was as overwhelming as it has been for
everyone I have accompanied there; she had not been to lower
Manhattan since August of 2001 when she took her daughter
and a friend of hers to the Observation Deck of the Twin Towers
to observe the city spread below them.
I observed Felicia and saw with fresh wonder how this place
and this event still staggers the mind and emotions of people.
This is a week in which I have felt an observer as I moved
through each day very engaged in my own work, busier
than I have been for some time but slightly disengaged from
everything else, watching events play out.
I smiled today when a young man with green hair juggled green
apples in the Canal Street subway stop and I observed with
a smile a young Wall Street woman who looked like shed
been breed in a WASPish area of Connecticut spend a good deal
of time helping an elderly African American gentleman find
the right stop on the subway, guiding him with a gentle hand
off the train at his stop.
I have observed in this column that New York is a kinder place.
It is one thing so many of my friends from other parts of
the country comment on when they visit now. The kindness of
this young woman was another example that civility endures.
Another tape has been played and now, it appears as of today,
that it may very well be the voice of Bin Laden which
has given the newly defeated Democrats a rallying cry.
Whether it was or was not Bin Laden, it was taken seriously
enough for an alert to be sent to law enforcement officials
warning them to watch out even though it was not made
to the public. The FBI sent out warnings to hospitals in several
cities while others are turning skeptical eyes at the agency,
wondering if they have any clue about anything.
If Bin Laden is alive, it will be, understandably, politicized.
We are still marching, seems the consensus, toward the war
with Iraq while we have terrorism undefeated and the
public debate is whether the two are connected. And all our
billions have not caught this one man in a cave somewhere
We are all, I think, confused. We are also frightened
of many things, including the economy, Iraq, Bin Laden, terrorism,
lay offs, disease, a stock market that seems anemic and a
corporate infrastructure that seems, in general, to be frayed
and in disarray. One of them most Republican individuals I
know threw his hands in the air this week in despair over
the current governments priorities.
Yet all our ordinary things go on. The holidays are coming
and it seemed as if they would have been almost normal until
Bin Laden spoke he has a sense of timing this man.
Thanksgiving is two weeks away and many that I know are already
beginning to head out to take time off and Christmas is around
the corner. Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are about
But what is not about to return is the world we had before