Saturday, September 10, 2011

My dearest, up in the aerie, after puttering around in the kitchen for a bit, making scallion cream cheese to go with toasted bagels & grilled salmon for breakfast tomorrow. As I moved about I thought about what to possibly write to you about tonight, and I couldn't help but think of course of the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which I don't really want to look at too closely head-on, there will be enough of that, but I have recollected over the last several days how you & I and other family members in tow visited Ground Zero together, probably more than a year, possibly two, after the event, when architectural models of proposed rebuild scenarios were on display. I think it's pretty remarkable that you and I were there together. I mean we weren't together-together, far from it. But still, we were in each other's presence, which is quite extraordinary. I don't remember much from that visit. J's wife M exclaiming over one of the models. My feeling alienated by the mostly befuddling conceptualizations. Your wife hadn't come along on the pilgrimage, because she felt that she couldn't handle it, which I say now (though didn't then) disappointed me. I thought that she should have gone to see it (especially since we were all together witnessing it as we were). Your middle daughter seemed oblivious of the gravity of the site - but of course she was very very young, it's just an offhand observation and inconsequential memory of the afternoon that I have. And I think we all stopped into a deli somewhere in the vicinity, Battery Park City or the outskirts of the World Financial Center, and ordered bagels maybe? I don't really recall you specifically from that day, except for your being (as always) a steady abiding presence, very comfortable to be around. Which too is the memory I have, from in years past, the few times - or perhaps just once? with me that is - we've gone all together on long walks at nature preserves. There you are, so nice to be with, even as I'm in step with others, rapt in conversation.

The other sideways thought that occurred to me as I unloaded the dishwasher & rinsed cat plates, was that I have vivid memories of not only 9/11, but of each of the two days previous. It's unusual, I think, to have such strongly etched impressions of those days - 9/9 and 9/10 were just days, not known beforehand to be the "before." September 9 was a Sunday, and D and I for some reason which I no longer recall, had tickets for a sail that afternoon on an old restored, refurbished small schooner ship, docked in South Street Seaport. It was a "use it or lose it" type deal, timed tickets, and I just wasn't in the mood to go. I was starting a new job the following day, I was happy just to be in the apartment or maybe stroll around our neighborhood, I wasn't really in the mood for a major expedition into Lower Manhattan. At the same time, though, I love going on sails, love being on the water, near the water, on a waterfront. Any time I've had, over the years, the amazing opportunity to take one cruise or another in New York Harbor I have absolutely adored it, the wind in my face, the salt air, the amazing unusual perspectives of familiar cityscapes, seeing sides of buildings that one might not see streetside.

So in the end, grumbling somewhat and in a rather dyspeptic mood that seemed to refuse to lift, I went, and D too (he was in a fine mood I think), and even as I made my way onto the boat (always so precarious & scary, that step from land over a "mind the gap" unsteady steep drop to water below to hoist one's self onto the boat - someone's hand was offered to assist I'm sure - I wasn't the most agile creature, at least in such circumstances).

And we set sail, and still - and I have to say rather uncharacteristically - my dyspeptic unhappy bored disconnected mood remained. Which is a little unusual because it was a glorious sunny afternoon, it was a rare treat to be on such an excursion - I had every reason to feel cheered or more game-faced. We set sail from the Seaport (the East River), headed south, rounded "the horn" of the Battery, and headed up the mouth of the Hudson, along the west side of lower Manhattan. There were a number of other people on the boat, not a huge crowd. I remember a woman with a thick German accent saying that they were here in New York because her husband was working in the financial sector on 'Wall Street.' Or maybe even - which is what I think, or my mind makes that connection - in the Twin Towers, by which the diminutive 19th century schooner with its unfurled linen masts and polished wood deck, sailed past. And that afternoon, sour as my mood was, I could at least apprehend and note the gargantuan scale of those immobile impassive iconic towers, that I'd seen a million times over the years from near and far (streetside, and from "sarenek," and even from as far away as high ridges in New Canaan, Ct.). But I had never seen the towers in precisely that golden seaborne light, on a tranquil late Sunday afternoon, in the comfortable company of strangers, on an old wooden ship, as we sailed upriver, turning our next attention, I suppose, to the waterside terminals on the other side of the river, in Hoboken.

So two days before their destruction, I had found myself gazing on them, sailing past, considering. No, no feeling of prescience, or anything like that. As I sailed past I didn't feel any anxiety about the towers, I don't believe. Alienation, perhaps. A sense of strangely askew scale, me on this old wood boat, beholding unimaginably vast steel structures packed onto the lower end of this island. Ah! Just now another little memory of that impression comes to mind --- how buildings of the World Financial Center, from my vantage point of the water, seemed to cluster like foothills around the towers.

That's that, darling, for now. So I ended up enjoying the cruise, the following day, 9/10, was a difficult day for me - on that day I started a job in the Bronx, that entailed a very long, difficult commute for me, from Brooklyn. But - enough for today.

Many kisses. I would be very curious to someday learn what your impressions were, of the day we all visited Ground Zero together, or what you daydream about when we're walking along high ridges overlooking - what, the Ramapapos? - and where used to be the towers, twin distant slivers, far far beyond.

Love you. Hope all's well. XOXO

(dearest, may come back in the a.m. to tweak/edit, fading now)

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