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my glamorous life

episodes & recollections

#59 blessed events

This would be the one where I’m supposed to turn the corner on all the horror and sorrow.

The one where I paint hopeful vignettes of everyday heroism, or string together beads of shopworn prose about getting back to work, rising like a phoenix, getting on with it.

Like the announcer on the clock radio that rips me from a mostly sleepless night. A commercial advising us to come back to Broadway, because America has cried but we can also laugh and sing.

But these notes I’ve been recording are not a commercial, not a TV drama that must resolve happily in time to break for a commercial.

The resolution will not be televised. The resolution will take as long as it takes. And some of us will never be the same.

Like the little boy at the interfaith service in Yankee Stadium, unable to stop crying since his Daddy was blown from the sky by a hijacked American plane.

Some days are better than others. Saturday, news sources leaked word of an expected second terror attack. A guy I know fled the city. I spent Saturday walking the streets, defying terror.

At one point I found myself in ABC Carpet, a palace of refined American consumption. Asian art, silk sheets, espresso makers, 45-inch high-definition televisions.

I used to have to be dragged to the place, since it always seemed bent on obliging me to spend money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need. But on Saturday I saw it differently. On Saturday I saw it as a museum to a way of life that was shaken forever in the early hours of 11 September.

On the fifth floor I found what I had sought. The fifth floor offered no espresso makers, no silk sheets, no trendy furnishings that would embarrass you long before you finished paying for them.

The fifth floor held a vast collection of hand-woven carpets from the Arab world. Their beauty balked comprehension. The patience of their makers defied easy answers.

Sunday found me at the Sixth Avenue flea market. I did not come to buy. I came to be inspired by decades of American stuff.

Heywood Wakefield credenzas. B Movie posters. Eames chairs. Faded storybooks. Shot glasses shaped like naked women. Sinister rubber bunnies. 1950s sunglasses—Beach Mate Blonde. A shrink-wrapped copy of Lumpy Gravy.

A vendor sat sucking an Italian ice. He said sales were tanking though the crowd was of normal size. He said everyone seemed to be hypnotized. Just looking.

Some days are better than others. Today I feel ready for anything. Yesterday I was paralyzed.

When I hold my woman we seem to fall under a spell, as if it is up to us to begin repopulating the earth.

When I hold my woman I think of the 6,000 who suddenly have no man or woman to hold.

I no longer know if these fragments I have been writing are confessions, poems, or prayers.

25 September 2001

previously: <the angry flag vendor>

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