I suppose in some ways there will always be a part of me that is a New Yorker. I was born in New York City hospital and grew up in midtown Manhattan, about nine blocks from the United Nations where my father worked as chief of television and radio. He had grown up in Vienna and when he moved to NYC he never learned to drive because he never needed to. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I finished college and at 21 was heading across the country for a new adventure in California. I never thought I would miss the subway system so much.
The skyline has shaped my inner landscape, that early experience an important part of who I am. As others, I remember the morning of September 11th five years ago quite vividly. I woke up in Berkeley, went to my computer to check the news, and was simply stunned to learn the Twin Towers were gone. It seemed inconceivable, a horrible joke. Something inside of me was torn away.
I have struggled all day with this post because of my extremely uneasy feelings about the term “Patriot Day” and the ways a call to patriotism has been a demand for unquestioning allegiance. Songbird wrote a beautiful and poignant post. She concludes “We have grown and deepened as a result of that terrible day. But our country’s leaders manipulated the unity born of grief and terror.” That line expresses my dis-ease well. To exploit our grief, to channel our anger into forms of retribution, have just added layers upon layers of violence to that day. The grief from that heartbreaking and sudden loss of mothers and fathers, siblings, children, and friends, now ripples around the world in new forms. We, the heartbroken, now break the hearts of others in the name of justice, and as we have learned a justice built on false pretenses indeed. Today I cry as much for the souls ripped from this world as I do for the consequences of that day.