I slept through it.
I lived in Santa Fe, two hours later, and working nights/closing shift at an Outback Steakhouse. On top of that I would go out drinking till 2 or 3, then home and sleep until noon or even later. I had inconsistent internet access, no tv or radio. I was in the habit of a daily crossword but by the time I roused and went for the paper I’d either missed the 2nd printing with the big news, or they’d never done one.
I was able to check email. Two spam, and one from Aaron, who’d just moved to NYC. Subject: “I’m OK.”
His email didn’t say anything about it. What he said was that it was a beautiful day, and that he, like many New Yorkers, had felt drawn to Central Park. That he was with friends, and that people were together and sharing and trying to enjoy the sky and celebrate life. Strangers were hugging and trying to laugh.
Aaron was a bit of a hippy and this could have just been any Tuesday email.
So I didn’t really work out what happened until I went to work.
I still haven’t seen or heard much footage. A few clips here and there. I try to avoid it, I suppose.
What I do remember is that feeling, and the fact that everyone talks about That Feeling, and we all seem to know what we mean. The feeling that people suddenly were aware in a new way, cared in a new way. The question “How are you? Are you OK? Are your people OK?” Those came with a new weight. The weight of sincerity.
Most of my memories are of other people relating their memories, their experiences. Jon Stewart choking through a speech of Hope. David Letterman slobbering through defiantly. Ze Frank singing.
It’s clear this week, with that dumbass video and the response in Egypt, Yemen, and Syria, that the world is not yet healthy. That we as Americans still aren’t healthy, that some of us still have dumb hate filling some deep part of us.
What I’ve always loved about America is its embrace. I don’t know what it means to be an American, but I have never felt that I was not American, that I wasn’t included. I know many other people feel differently, and I know I’m fortunate in many ways to have been born the race that I am, the gender I am, the sexuality I am, to the family I have. So maybe it’s just those circumstances and not America.
Knowing how lucky I am makes it all the more important for me to include others in my embrace, in the hug of America.
What I love about America is that someone who doesn’t feel embraced can stand up and say, “I don’t feel embraced!” And suddenly a bunch of other people have their back.
So this is just to say that a) we’ve got work and I want to help. That b) I’ve got your back, whoever you are and however you feel. And c) I hope you’re ok.
Are you ok?