The long view

Gary came for dinner and we forgot what day it was but remembered again as we listened to him tell the story of that morning in September he went to work at the New York Times building in Manhattan. He was studying at Columbia’s school of journalism, working for a Japanese newspaper. The second plane hit the World Trade Center when he arrived mid-morning and his editor told him to go out and take some pictures, but they wouldn’t let anyone near the site.

That night Gary met a woman in the crowd trying to get a view: she owned a building nearby and asked if he wanted to follow her up to the rooftop to take some pictures from up there. He described what the view was like leaning over the gargoyles trying to get a good shot. One of the photographers he met in the crowd worked for the AP and got access to get in closer, and invited Gary to join her. But the police said no one could take pictures of the first responders because they were traumatized and he’d take their press passes if anyone did. Dawn, Gary and I talked about it: do you take the long view and do it anyway because it’s history?

We got pizza and opened Gary’s wine, starting in the den then moving to the outdoor room and ending in the garage. I stayed up past 1 and slept until 8, woke to smoke and fog. Everyone texting pictures about the fresh hop beers that just arrived at the boutique shops in the city but we had jack shit out here in the suburbs. Mike offered to get me some and I drove to see him Sunday morning and get mine. He said come through the gate and we can have one out back if you have time. We sat under the umbrella and shared a can with the Belgian glass we brought back from our time in Amsterdam 23 years ago. We had that time together still, would forever.

We had Beth over for dinner and I made the pork and beans recipe I do this time of year when it’s in between summer and fall. I wrote the date with some notes and put it in the cook book on that page: 9/12/20. Added a can of Hatch chilies, used two jalapeño, a bit sharp. Dawn, Beth and Lily. Closed the book, put it back on the shelf. Went back to the garage and sat by the generator with the bay doors open and the smoke coming on again, photos of Mike with some canal behind him on the wall, curling. The DJ played Dead Can Dance, said it was released this day back in 1983.

I wanted that same urgency of a reporter squeezing his way through the crowd. To follow my life like that, too. And to take the long view.

Categories: Memoir, writing

Tags: , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Trying to think what radio station would play Dead can Dance anymore, and I only come up with KEXP.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A powerful memoir Bill my friend and a tale written in a direct manner making it so vivid. Such moments stay forever and the 9/11 always haunts us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In 2017, working at an elementary school, deeply depressed I stood outside on 9/11 as the national anthem played. I stood next to the gym teacher and neither of us had any idea why we were outside and making such a big deal of the flag raising ceremony. This year, not depressed, 9/11 has been in my mind frequently. Perhaps we can only acknowledge memories like that when we’re mentally healthy. IMO nothing is gained by viewing pictures of traumatized fire fighters forty years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that view on the pictures of traumatized fire fighters and tend to agree; it’s an interesting take on the value of sacrificing personal experiences in the now for the perceived benefit of memorializing for the future. I haven’t felt any level of loss or depression since 2002. But an odd thing for our generation to experience. I’d probably feel more exposed standing outside a school with the national anthem playing, though…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. A lot in this one, Bill. Social stories but with spice. Too hot? How long to cool, what taste echoes. Culinary metaphors, life’s leftovers.

    Liked by 1 person

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