Flying home on 9/11.10
This year, my route home from residency in Vermont took me to the skies on the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Last year, my route home was on 9/12, metaphorically the day after. Last year, I sat in the Burlington airport and watched two families await the arrival home of servicemen fathers. I had to choke back tears, watching the emotions of the reunions and thinking about the symbolism and all the meaning behind those uniforms and where these men had been.
This year, there were a few people in the airport dressed in flag ensembles, and a snippet of news coverage was overheard in passing. On one flight, the attendant asked for a moment of silence in remembrance; most complied—except for a few people who were laughing. Really? Yes.
Given my long lay-over, I had time to think about my own feelings on this war. I am adamantly opposed to war, so the fact that this one (or two, but who’s counting?) has lasted so long when we the people were promised it would be six months, tops, is inexcusable. I can’t really say much more than that. Well, I can, because I can debate the socio-political what-not of the situation, but I won’t. I did remember some writing I did just after the attacks, and want to share it.
This piece incorporates a motif from Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the novel, the patriarch, Jose Buendia, goes crazy at the time his son goes to war, for an indefinable cause. In Buendia’s words, the time machine has stopped. Here are my words, originally written in November of 2001. It is a patchwork sort of piece. The lack of capitalization, minimal punctuation, and random paragraphing are intentional:
My mind has been quite disjointed in it’s flow since the outbreak of war. I see a dangerous cycle that has been with man since time, and in parallel contrast I see a movement toward other ways of living side by side, of resolving conflict, of getting along. Is terrorism, in any way, right or excusable? No. Yet, I believe in Peace. Those are the two voices in my head—the fear and the longing. So, in writing this piece I wanted to organize my words around this cacophony. I wanted to convey what my heart feels on this day—the day on which the time machine broke.
It’s a beautiful morning it’s a beautiful morning a beautiful morning it’s a beautiful morning. I’m on my bike to school. birds sky clouds cracks in the street leaves begin to turn leaves fall…leaves it’s fall. whisssh whisssh my tires on the road.
I can’t believe this is happening…did you hear? A bomb the towers are down we’re at war. leaves fall in my heart. two months later I would remember the war planes fly by the window as I teach. two months later friends and I walk to the park I would see flames in the leaves of the trees—the colors of the WTC explosion must have been like those of the beautiful maple trees. flame orange and red that I saw with Sean & Sophie on the way to Wilshire park.
Leaves fall buildings crash life ends and my life goes on. those trees the reds so translucent so vibrant a melon-rich red orange flame orange and the next day and the next as I bike by the leaves fall and fallen are on the ground. I would remember that day when dad told me, Neva even the oldest trees must die.
Wednesday morning I awoke, I stepped onto the back porch into the singing of backyard birds, I watched the squirrels and it was calm just like any morning I choose to check. it was calm and peaceful.
I’m trying to hold onto the Dalai Lama’s notion that peace begins within the person. imagine all the people living in the world…war is over if you want it…give peace a chance…it’s been a month and I watch the tribute to John Lennon and NYC and cry.
It was a beautiful morning. the time machine broke. it will always be Tuesday in America.
I’m on my bike again and with the whissh whisssh of tires this echoes in my mind thou shalt not kill thou shalt not kill and we chant at Christmas…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
It’s a blue, blue sky (the same sky covers Afghanistan).
Back on my bike and I remember watching MASH last night the episode ended with Colonel Potter blowing out a candle on a cake and wishing peace on his staff.
Peace I see the message everywhere peace whsssh leaves fall it’s a beautiful morning birds cracks in the street whssssh peace peace peace whssssh it will always be Tuesday peace can begin with me as leaves fall the spring brings new growth and even as the oldest trees die war will end peace whssssh whssssh peace.
..the list line of the last song on the last Beattles album: the love you take is equal to the love you make…