Reflections On A City
By Mat Tombers
Last week New York Magazine devoted itself, as did the whole
city, to our collective state of mind six months later. It
encouraging and disheartening, this place we are in, here
in New York.
Every day I suspect everyone is like me: we think somehow
that the New
York Times will be different when we open it in the morning,
world will be normal and that the events of September
11th will never
have happened or at least have faded into another life.
But that hasnt happened and when I opened the Times
on the subway while
on my way to a meeting I realized, as I have before, that
that is happening in the world seems somehow related to that
That we have reached a six month anniversary has been cause
additional intellectual exegesis in every magazine printed
story aired, or so it seemed.
The conclusion: we are recovering, psychically and economically,
are more deeply wounded than we want to admit to our own
When we sit in the quiet of the night, in the soft darkness,
left to the
private honesty that comes in the quiet and the dark, we
I wonder if it is the same way in the rest of the country?
As I typed
the words above, I wanted to immediately reach out and phone
say: are you afraid? But we arent talking about it
as much today as we
were months ago. We have become so American stoic again.
I had dinner
with a friend and realized we were both making efforts to
talk about the
fun things but that isnt all of what is going on with
either of us.
We are not what we were and we are not yet where we will
Even now, months after, people are still leaving the city,
one by one,
usually not reported but because this was the six month anniversary,
people took note of those who have been so wounded in their
they cannot bear the touch of the city any longer.
In reading the papers, we find the stories of the widows
and orphans of
the disaster, people coping with mountains of paperwork and
ongoing pain of grief, often unrelieved by the actual opportunity
good-bye because their loved ones have not been found. But
only some of the threads of that day.
From that moment comes the realization that there are new
Afghanistan. Last week, outside of Kandahar, two boys were
away by their father for two bags of grain because it was
either that or
let the whole family starve.
In awful fact, it may not be as bad in Afghanistan now as
it would have
been if it had not been for the war because at least humanitarian
arriving in sufficient quantities to minimize a potential
Events in Israel and Palestine have a new importance; that
the fire that forged the zealots who flew into the Towers.
suicide bombing I become angrier, at both sides, for not
solution, for not compromising, for not respecting one another.
are friends who tell me I am naïve to hope for such
a thing, but I do
because if there is no peace there, chances are there will
be no peace
I live on Greenwich Street where it intersects Rector. It
came to me
this week that I have been on Rector several times. The DMV
is here but
I didnt recognize the street when I moved here because
so much is
different here than it was. It was disorienting. And that
is what we
New York Magazine reported that many individuals who were
the Towers are exhibiting genuine post traumatic stress syndrome,
showing up in all kinds of ways, from headaches to stomachaches
exhaustion to general nervousness. We, at least, have an
to help us. I wonder what services a poor woman in Afghanistan
help her cope with loss. Is the man in Tel Aviv who was on
a bus blown
up but lived to tell the tale getting sufficient support?
Lives are being reborn and being remade. I know of people
careers, slowing down, leaving the offices earlier, and being
meaningful in their good-byes, more joyous in their hellos.
I hear in
the subways individuals saying good-bye with the phrase:
But did they say that before 9/11?
I dont know what its like out there, in other
parts of the country. I
need to find out. In the next two weeks I will be going to
and to Atlanta, on business. But I will look and ask and