Friday, September 10, 2010

Journal from Sept 11, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The Lights
Follow the Light
By: Jason Nettle

I have a hard time believing you can argue this, but we have forgotten. Yes. It's the 5 year anniversary of the worst attack ever on American soil and even though we honor it and remember all those that were lost, that FEELING is gone. If we were to play word association and I said the word "9-11", I promise you the words and phrases I would receive are: War, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, Bush has screwed up, New York City, and planes. The words that seem to be forgotten are what 9-11 would bring up just after the massacre: community, caring, united, perspective, strong, and have to put an end to it.
So today I didn't want to get involved with the news covering all the conspiracy theories on how people believe our own government plotted this, and how every conversation led to how we haven't found Osama and what in the hell we're doing in Iraq, and how we're not any safer 5 years later than on Sept. 10th. Yeah, people want Bush dead, and think he isn't smarter than the homeless guy outside of my apartment, and he's inept to lead us. We want someone to blame for everything we've been through. Minutes after the towers collapsed and we see Arabs celebrating in the streets in the middle east, 98% of Americans wanted to go over there, kick ass, make them pay for what they've done, and destroy all evil over there so this would NEVER happen again. Today we have 50% of Americans wanting our troops home and saying we don't belong over there or the rest of the world will hate us. So, I wanted to remember the day for what it was and only the 3 weeks that followed. I didn't see how one day of the year, all of us forget that we absolutely hate the other half of the country's beliefs and unite to remember. It seemed too ridiculous for me.
I stayed home. All day. Watched tv and some of the coverage, but turned it off when it became too political. The last thing I saw was Katie Couric explaining that the checklist made by the 9-11 commission that would make our country safer received C's, D's, and F's. Yup, that should fill us with fear until next year. I kept myself busy until about 7 when I left to go down to 26th street to see a whole evening of improv done at the school I've been studying at last few months, Upright Citizen's Brigade. It was just growing dark when I got on the subway at 96th St. 40 minutes later, I got out of the subway at 28th St. and it was definitely after dusk. As I was walking to the theater I looked up and saw two huge bright white lights shooting up to the heavens. I had forgotten that they illuminate these two beams from the site of Ground Zero in honor of the fallen towers. I always carry my camera, and I pulled it out and played with it till I could illuminate the sky brightly so the beams stood out. On a certain shot, the clouds were right over the beams and that seemed to pierce the cloud like a sword, with the clouds falling limp over the brilliant gash the towers had made.
I don't know what it was. I was about 2 miles from it and I just started walking towards it. Yes, i was walking towards the light. Every so often I would stop and take a different type of shot, each one being different than the last. The closer I got, the more I thought of that day and what those towers did for this city. When I had first moved to NY, I lived in Queens and used to stand on the subway platform out there, which was above ground, and just stare at the beautifully lit buildings on the southern tip of manhattan thinking it was a too magical to be real. I used to take friends and family down there because the architecture was unmatched. The Windows of the World restaurant at the top was a gorgeous place to take a date and dance to their Big Band nights. They're gone.
The strange thing was as i was walking, these two magnificent beams were shooting up to God and I walked by hundreds and hundreds of people who didn't even seem to know they were there. They were sitting outside eating, complaining to their waiters, on their cell phones, arguing with there mates, and listening to their ipods, trying to shield themselves from the community. I never seemed to look at the base of the lights, but just kept looking up so high that they seemed to be going behind me.
The two beams are set up just south of Ground zero, so as I was looking up and seeing how high they were going, I found myself looking at the fence which protected the graveyard of two thousand of my neighbors from the throngs of tourists and vandals. An enormous American Flag was draped just to the west on a tall building, which only reminded me of fellow cast members who wore Canadian shirts on Fourth of July while we were on tour in Asia so that no one believed we were from that Hellish Ego centric country, America. Hundreds of people were there taking pictures, praying, and looking at the all the flowers, letters, and items left in remembrance of loved ones. It seemed a little too comfortable for what I imagined it would be. Too much of a tourist trap. I kept staring at the hole. Why today? Why did I miss the towers today? I wanted them back. I wanted to pretend this had never happened and we could go back to being unprepared and worrying about ridiculous stuff in the news (like celebrity couples' babies), and New Yorkers never being teased with what it felt like to have 11 million people having your back at any given moment. Go back to never knowing what it was like to feel like you should never take anything for granted and kiss your loved ones goodbye, you know, just in case. Go back to having the CIA hate the FBI and the police and fireman not wanting to work together. I just wanted those two enormous masses sitting in this spot and everyone could go to work tomorrow and make a living, And if they had to fly out tomorrow, their families could walk them to the gate.
I did a lap around the void and decided it was time to leave when a fight almost broke out between the group who asked everyone to support our president and troops and the group who wanted peace and wanted the troops back home. Yeah, right in front of everyone. Almost a fight. Lots of yelling, getting in people's faces, and successfully ruining the day of family members who were down there mourning the ridiculous slaughter of their husband, wife, our child. A little more selfish you fucking idiots.
I turned and got on the subway. Got off again at 28th street so I could check out the rest of the improv evening. Turned around and there were the lights. Saw the show, came out, and there were the lights. Took the subway up to 96th street, and there were the lights. It wasn't until this moment I realized how fucking close this attack was to my bed where I was sleeping. These lights stretched up and attached themselves to the heavens and have secured our island with their support. No matter where you are in NY, there they are. As I write this, they are shining up from southern Manhattan, a few miles away. On a night like this, it is more than apparent that they were there. No matter what walk up, apartment building, or restaurant you're at which blocks you off from Ground Zero, those lights can be seen from anywhere and remind you that they were there. They were our history. They were a way of life. They represented two targets which would turn this world upside down, split our country in two, and launch us into the 21st century in a way no one ever would have imagined.
I miss them.

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