This is the scariest and most boring summer of my life. Boring because each time that I can actually go somewhere it rains or threatens to. I love sultry sun and sultry humidity, not in the 70’s mold enticing dribble we have learned to live with. (Not.) I know I could live in Florida, and then I’d know what real bad weather is.
On the other hand people who don’t live in Manhattan would come visit me. Most of my Manhattan friends (with the exception of Springs Girl–thank you) pretend not to be scared. But if unexpected fireworks go off they panic.
When I was watching the opening Olympics last night I realized how much most of the world confuses the people with our so-called government. Then they confuse New Yorkers with people in the rest of the country.
We’re not like them. We might want to be considered American but they never let us forget how they went to war for us. It was a war few New Yorkers wanted or understood. Why am I speaking in the past tense? It is a war few of us want or understand.
New York doesn’t even seem like a real place anymore but a symbol of something I don’t quite understand. It’s difficult to actually live in a symbol.
We came out enmasse in 2000 to vote for Gore and Moveon.org sends me e-mails telling me that I live in a low voting registration district. Moveon’s supposed to represent me and my interests. They should know that the Upper West Side has a proud tradition of voting–even when percentage it doesn’t mean a damn if I do (electoral college bull.)
Moveon and every other organization should stop asking me for money. My apartment’s worth a small fortune today but as noted in New York Magazine, it might be worthless tomorrow. Then again I might be incinerated, and not care.
I’m beginning to sound like the paranoid leftist conspiracy theorists I always made fun of. When President Kennedy was assassinated I was old enough to watch TV almost all the time. My parents made me go bowling and I missed Lee Harvey Oswald being killed by Jack Ruby—though I saw the endless replays, I always guilted my parents for making me miss the actual event.
I was too young to get the conspiracy thing. Actually I got it but didn’t want to believe it because I was just a kid and wanted to live a safe life, with some excitement when I became old enough to have adventures. I did have adventures, so I should be happy, but….
I wanted an exciting life. I didn’t want it to become exciting because I live in a place that is constantly being threatened. My government makes sure I know that it is, but somehow we find out wrong facts, or no facts. We’re just left with a mindless fear, and that’s what the government wants.
It’s not exciting to live with the threat of implosion, anthrax or numerous other things that I can’t even imagine but might have to soon.
New York is always giving. We have traditionally given the most generous welfare benefits. We accept all children into our schools because that’s the right thing to do. We don’t care if people aren’t documented; most of us have good friends who once were (and are now very successful.)
We stopped thinking about skin color three years ago. Most of us weren’t racist to begin with, and racism’s so petty. When I meet a person I’m pretty sure is Muslim I tend to go out of my way to be friendly. I give extra big tip’s to Pakistani cab drivers. Maybe that’s overdoing it; maybe I’m financing my own death. But as long as I live I will not hate people because they hate me. I had too much experience with that in Junior High.
I just want to turn the clock back to a perfect Sunday three years ago when I was standing on a former friend’s roof deck. I looked at the Rampago Mountains; I looked for my apartment building; I looked for friend’s buildings. I don’t remember looking for the World Trade Center. It was something that had been there most of my life and I assumed would always be there.
Two days later when my friends met (without consulting each other–downed phone line’s) at my favorite New York Kid’s middle school, we had stopped assuming anything. One of my friends was supposed to have been in training at the towers. It had been postponed. She was too shocked to realize how close she could have come to death. Most people who worked for that company survived. After ’93 they had taken nothing for granted, and had many survival exercises.
My sister and I had laughed (fondly) at the image of our broker, an Italian stud, carrying an old woman down 87 floors. Now we just prayed for his survival. But it was his company that had taken bomb threats seriously and had the least number of casualties.
I knew many people who worked in the Trade Center but it was my friend Patty’s brother-in-law Pete I couldn’t stop thinking about. He’s a k-9 cop, and was assigned to The Trade Center. Fortunately his shift was later and as he was driving his wife to work he saw a ball of fire. He dropped her off, and raced there. He survived. Everyone I knew survived.
Almost two years ago I was at my second cousin’s son’s wedding. The Chuppah (wedding canopy) was an American flag. We thought that it was strange until we read the program. It was the flag her great-grandparents had raised every morning until her grandfather came home from World War Two. Sarah had escaped from the North Tower and her parents had immediately hung the flag. It made me cry.
Why is it that other countries can proudly exhibit their flags but Americans can not? Why are Americans held accountable for every problem on earth? If America is responsible, why can’t people separate the government from the people?
We in New York didn’t vote for the present government. Our Republicans tend to be mavericks who think outside the box. I’ve never understood Pataki’s appeal or non-appeal. He’s the man I never recognize. He looks so regular with no distinguishing (or undistinguishing) characteristics that I think of him as the man I can’t recognize.
I love my country. I love my city even more. But one way or another I will be out of here next year. Of course the only place in the whole country I would consider relocating to is just outside of LA and in LA county. It’s blue, filled with New York expats, and on the Pacific. It will probably be the next place to go, but it’s the only other place I can picture myself living.
I want my family and friends to come along. But if they won’t….I’m still going.
I don’t want to wake up every cloudy dismal morning trying not to wonder if today’s the day.