A Freudian Slip
By Mat Tombers
Last week, at 0 dark hundred, while standing under the shower
Park Hyatt in Los Angeles, on Friday morning as I was preparing
return to New York, it came to me with a sudden, dismal rush,
that I had
forgotten to do my column for the week.
Forgotten? How could I have forgotten? It was a question
me all the way to the airport, all the way home [the part
of the flight
for which I was awake, which was not much] and into the weekend.
week, since I began this, I have organized my thoughts and
around getting this column written - and last week I did not.
Was it just that I was traveling and got lost in time? That
I had a
particularly busy schedule that pushed this out of my mind?
No, I don't think so.
It had to do with some deep, profound and unknown need I
had to take a
vacation, to a "leave" from the psychological front
of the war on
terrorism. I needed, without knowing it and not until I had
an R&R leave.
I arrived in Los Angeles on Monday, a fresh and beautiful
headed straight to my hotel to check in, shower, unpack and
Throwing open the sliding doors of my hotel room I enjoyed
the sight and
smell of Los Angeles beneath me - and felt - again I didn't
until I analyzed it - a weight lift from my shoulders.
Going over to Westwood, I had coffee with an old friend,
Bob Chmiel, who
is VP of Creative Affairs for Daniel L. Paulson Productions.
discussed projects, things we were doing, how our lives were
looked great and it was a great moment to see an old friend
and catch up
- and may be do some business with him.
From there I returned to my hotel, saw another old friend,
option I had on a project of his, met Medora Heilbron to work
project we're pitching together and then went off to dinner
with a group
of old friends at the Napa Valley Grill.
I had four days of this, four days of great adventures with
opportunities to visit with people, good food, conversations
stimulated me. I spoke on a panel for the Non-Fiction Peer
Group at the
Television Academy and kept on seeing old friends, sharing
food and more good conversations.
It was intoxicating - and only when I woke up with the hangover
realizing I had forgotten to write my column -- did I stop
about why the week was so much what I needed and had not known
It was not that New York was ever very far from my thoughts
or that my
friends and I didn't talk about it but when we did; it was
other place, some place distant from where I was. I had not
I was "war weary," that living in New York in this
time has taken a toll
And it has. There has been a change in who I am as a result
of what has
happened. It is true, I believe, for every living American
but there is
a special toll, I guess, that being in New York causes. I
away at night from the pillars of lights; I cannot escape
conversation about re-building. There is no flight from the
gapes in the earth two blocks north of me and which I drove
morning with an overwhelming sense of sadness.
In Los Angeles, and in every other city in America, you do
not see the
hole except in pictures - and being of the television generation
are one step removed from what we see on television. It is
"real" than a newspaper report but it is not as
"real" as being there.
I now appreciate the concept of R&R for soldiers in a
way I didn't
before. It was soothing to be away, to be magically transported
United Airlines, to a city that was psychologically affected
physically intact. It was calming to people who discussed
with just a little bit of distance to their view.
Until this, I had not realized what has changed about me
as I have been
living downtown. I am changed because I not only know the
is gone; I see its wound every day. I live every day with
pointing out to one another this or that missing landmark
different downtown is than it was in August. I see the faces
workers as they come and go from the excavation/recovery site;
them in the morning in the little store and I see them at
night on their
way home or to the bars.
I cough, a cough that came after September 11th and which
has not gone
away, a small, annoying little cough that is shared by many
In a very human way, I wanted and must have needed not to
think about my
home and the world in which I live because it went out the
week, victim to my need for R&R. And why I needed it was
to me until I thought about it, and after I had returned to
coming home in the darkness of the early evening, past the
lights that illuminate the hole round the clock, past the
light that are the temporary memorial to all who have been
lost and all
that is gone. It didn't occur to me until I heard my friends
in New York speak of their gnawing unease while going out
of their way
to return to normal routines.
You see, we live almost, but not quite, in a war zone and
all that goes
with that. My empathy for everyone who lives in Israel and
has soared as that situation deteriorates.
As is my occasional custom, I went to Trinity Church for
on Monday and as I walked to and from, I knew I was home and
I knew that
I had needed a little rest and that I had been grateful for
it and I
wondered - and worried - for all those who need a rest but
have not had
it nor will likely get it.