Sunday, September 11, 2011

A New York State Of Mind

When I was in the eighth grade, I traded a Bon Jovi cassette tape for a bulletin board with a musical note on it at a Christmas party. I don't know why I didn't like Bon Jovi because everyone else did and obviously, I had not seen enough of Jon Bon Jovi in pictures or on television to be swayed by his charisma. Today I saw him perform at the VH1 9/11 concert while at the gym which made me wish I had that tape. Like some people I know, the tenth anniversary attention depresses me because so much has changed in ten years. Three people I loved have died, I almost died, and while I remember the day clearly, I also remember my personal life being in a shambles, my car in the shop (Snowflake was purchased a mere month later), and the beginning of some hard times for so many who had lost people, hope, a sense of safety, and much more. I choked up a little as I continued in my slow way on the treadmill, noting that Billy Joel was a favorite of the crowd, especially when he played "New York State of Mind" and Jay Z and the Goo Goo Dolls didn't quite get the same emotional reaction. For the first time, I felt some of the spirit of the day instead of the numbness I had been experiencing, the contempt for the signs that read I Will and list things people can do to commemorate the day. I thought in a bitter way, I Will sit on my ass.

In mass last night, the priest said we have to forgive the terrorists. This, of course, is a radical message. It's hard to forgive someone who lost your favorite sweater, much less the Taliban. But the Bible is not an easy book and forgiveness, which sounds so simple, turns out to be the toughest lesson there is. The first person recorded dead at Ground Zero was a Catholic priest, a gay man, a recovering alcoholic, and a chaplain to the firefighters. He was delivering last rites when he was mortally wounded. The firefighters carried him out of the rubble, his spirit already to the afterlife. Of course, this modern day version of the Pieta breaks the heart. But it is with a broken heart, we realize how much each day matters even as we grouse about all the little irritations of our daily life. How wondrous it is, how sad, how beautiful, how difficult. But for now it's what we have. When Bon Jovi sang about how he wasn't going to live forever, but he was going to live while he was alive, the crowd went wild. It's not an easy thing to remember, but maybe that's what I will do, at least for today.


Shea Goff said...

Beautiful, Michelle. Thank you for this.

Tim said...

Very, very nicely written, Michelle.
With all the hype leading up to the tenth anniversary, I thought the tv networks would grab the opportunity to turn the day into a macabre sort of celebration, but to their credit - from what I saw at least - they presented their programs in a very respectful manner.

Charles Gramlich said...

Never really gave much thought to that Bon Jovi lyric. "live while you're alive." Now I think I'll look at it differently.

the walking man said...

Only the foolish do not try to understand that they may be able to forgive and only the sorrow filled stay stuck in a time at a place where tragedy happened.

I will live without fear every day even the day after I am dead to this fucked up world.

There is enough right now for me to wonder about instead of something that happened a decade ago other than it seems no one realizes it wasn't 3000 people who died that day it was 9000 Americans killed, 70,000 wounded and, roughly 150,000 foreign nationals dead. These God damned bush wars are still killing people in the name of one act of fools and motherfuckers who are all themselves now dead.

Anonymous said...

As Pete Hamill writes about 9/11 in The New Republic, it's just nice to go home to a Fukiko.--Far From the Maddening Crowd

sage said...

I like your comments about forgiveness! Good thoughts about 911