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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anger and Love

I've got to tell you, I really worked myself up about whether or not to write a September 11th post-- like what I do or don't do, on this space, and in life, matters a damn.

That's the thing about me: I vacillate so between the two extremes of taking myself way too seriously on the one hand, and thinking that I'm probably one of the most insignificant and ridiculous beings on the face of the earth. It's kind of annoying to have both an inflated sense of self-importance, coupled with self-confidence the size of a whitehead.

I thought about writing about something totally unrelated to September 11th, because I often do that when there is media saturation about something-- I tend to go the other way. But then I thought, "you're just doing that to be an asshole, and you're asshole enough without doing that."

Once I had decided (seven minutes ago) that I would write a September 11th post, my thoughts turned to how I ought to approach it. Would it be the acerbic, sardonic "Dear Apron" voice that is crass and crude and obscene, mocking the vaunted solemnity and vacant pageantry granted to the 10th anniversary recognition of that terrible day, or would the tone be more philosophical, introspective, careful and considerate, weighing the colossal tragedy of the actual terrorist act against the unhinged and seemingly intractable military operations that have occurred in its wake?

And... after at least six-and-a-half minutes of scattered, distracted deliberation: I can't decide.

What's a fella to do?

I thought I might tell you where I was when the first plane hit-- but nobody really gives a shit about that except me and, actually, I don't really give that much of a shit about that either. I don't know why this culture is so fixated on that where-I-was business. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, is where you were when such-and-such a thing happened really that relevant to not only the event, but to your memory of the event? I never understood that.

But, anyway.

I'm writing this post, as I do with all my posts, a day ahead-- on September 10th. So, I don't really know how I'm going to feel on the actual 11th. Maybe much different than I do right now, which is ambivalent and disinterested, by the way, but I don't know. Maybe I won't. I'll be working at my psych hospital on September 11th, hanging with a bunch of folks who, for a time anyway, aren't among the general population. On Saturday morning, one of the ladies asked what the date was.

"It's the 10th," I said.

"Oh," she answered flatly, "and tomorrow's September 11th."

"Tomorrow's September 11th," I repeated, somewhat mechanically. You learn in this business to keep your voice as even as possible, lest any untoward inflection betray how you really feel about things.

"September 11th made me angry," the patient stated, simply, tersely, plainly.

I paused for a second.

"That makes sense," I said, because, in a world where people do and say things that make no sense whatsoever, you've got to acknowledge when things do make sense.

I'm glad I'm going to be in a psychiatric hospital for eight hours on September 11th. For a lot of reasons, mostly though to be in a place where not making sense is as okay as making sense. Because September 11th, even after 10 years, doesn't make sense, nor does anything that came after it.

Or before.

I have vague memories of floating through a surreal, faded version of my college campus on that day, and I can remember watching endless hours of CNN-- not really watching it, acknowledging it maybe. What I remember most was my creative writing professor arriving half-an-hour late to class, breaking down into barely controlled sobs, and sending us away.

And I think, for that one quick, fleeting moment, I fell in love with her. Well, maybe not with her, really-- but her humanity, her dignity, her frailty, and her deep beauty. She ascended, I think, in that moment, as she delivered her news and her tears and her love, in a way that was not quite human anymore. Like the Pieta she was, Mary cradling us all, limp and wounded, in her arms.

It was the single most arresting moment of my college career.

I'd thought about writing about the horror of terror, the anxiety faced by millions in the wake of the attacks, about my forever amplified fear of flying, about life in the city, about recovery and rebirth, but I suppose, in the end, September 11th for me is best summed up with two words:

Anger, and love.

1 comment:

  1. This, Apron, is my favorite version of you. Because, you know, it's you. You are so gloriously tender beyond the calluses you present here. And so articulate. You have long inspired me to be more honest.


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