I realize that this is about four posts in one. Sorry. I was depressed when I wrote it. My aunt was dying. It was the anniversary of my father’s death and I have only begun to miss him in recent years. It was a very depressing week. When I write like this, I’m exploring one aspect of me.
I make myself sound friendless which is far from true. I do think that the first few years after 9/11, as they affected New Yorkers, should be discussed.
From the very beginning the “theme” was resilience. And we were.
However, the 9/11 families weren’t the only people to suffer. It feels as if talking about other peoples pain is verboten. I believe that enough time has passed to begin to talk about this because it is important to understand.
I used to date somebody who never once went back to his apartment in Battery Park City. My neighbor moved three times in the first three years looking for a place she could feel rooted in. Just two fast examples. Ultimately they did find peace.
My IVillage horoscope:
Take an honest inventory of your life. If you’re totally truthful, you’ll see you lead a pretty fantastic existence — and a pretty busy one, too. So stop beating yourself up over what you think is lacking.
I’m very sad. I feel very vulnerable. Fragile. Not nice. I miss my parents. Some of my friends left New York for other cities.
Most left this life, not willingly, but from AIDS. Their deaths might have been prevented or their lives lengthened…I don’t want to go there.
Then there were the friends, friends of years, who I fought with or they fought with me or…after 9/11.
My mother died suddenly a month after. It wasn’t proper to mourn blatantly, to ask for support from some friends when I was the unmarried one, the one without children.
I had no damn idea I wasn’t supposed to cry for my mother and to continue listening to their problems. I hadn’t read that chapter in the friends/terrorist attack handbook.
People, some people close to me tell me that I should, almost five and a half years later, make up with these friends. I should apologize for mourning because these were high status friends. The type of people who have their birthdays listed in some newspapers, or their spouses do.
A part of me wants to. Another part of me says “screw that.”
Some people think I’m too strong, too independent. Other people think because I don’t say “screw that,” out loud or seem to fight for my rights, anywhere but my blog, that I’m weak. There is truth in both sentiments. Truth is usually more difficult than most people think. I try to understand all sides. I’m too damn gray–not black and/or white enough.
I made new friends. They were single women who had been flitting from one community to another since the attack. They too were looking for security in a very insecure city. It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault.
Only I believed that it was.
I began to believe that there was something horribly wrong with me. I seemed to only get along well with married men. No, I didn’t have affairs. Something about sleeping with another woman’s husband had always seemed wrong to me. I did think about it once or twice.
Gay men, gay men they died. I understand that the epidemic of deaths was over. It wasn’t logical. I hadn’t turned homophobic. I was looking for security in friendship. I was scared to become friendly with people who belonged to a group that was so vulnerable
My friends and I pre-all this had vowed to grow old together. We even had the nursing home picked out for our oldest years. We had many dreams for the years before we turned 90something.
Married men provided a safety net. I could still be me. I still had whatever it was that attracted people to me. But something big inside me was lacking. It became progressively more difficult for me to trust people. To believe that they just wanted to know me, and not just want a listening post or my alleged expertise in various subjects.
I say alleged because I claim expertise in nothing. I speak well. I have various degrees and certificates. I manage to eke a living out of the stock market. I must have expertise in all these things. Maybe I do.
That’s not what I want from friendship. Shared experiences are nice. Dinners out. Movies, they have never been a social thing to me.
I like coffee houses. i even like museums.
People were looking for what I couldn’t give and I was looking for what they couldn’t give.
I wanted lack of complications. I didn’t want to talk about myself and I didn’t want to hear other peoples stories. I really began my blog in November 04. It provided a place to vent. i didn’t need to vent other places. I wanted ease in my friendships.
I find that ease in friendships in other cities now. With people who didn’t have their worlds cut apart one morning. I almost told a friend last night to just find somebody. To settle while this friend is still young enough to learn the art of compromise.
Because after 9/11 the people who did best were the people with spouses and/or children. They had their own set of problems. But when you have children, you have to at least pretend that all is right with the world. You watch your children grow. You find yourself laughing. You find yourself disciplining. Life goes on. It becomes normal once again. Whether or not they have problems, there is solidity in families.
I went to several weddings where the people became engaged on or shortly after 9/11. It was a time to settle down. Obviously that can’t work for everybody.
This city was so good for me once. But now it has become a city of broken dreams, of lives cut short. My father did believe this was the greatest city anywhere. But when I wanted to leave seventeen years ago, he understood. Only I couldn’t. He died. My mother wasn’t young and was becoming blind.
I actually wrote a post explaining exactly what living in Manhattan, sixteen years ago, in a building where the owner, name unknown would resort to doing when he/she couldn’t legally evict you, was like. It did involve bag people being allowed to sleep in the vestibule and lobby, infestation of unpleasant insects, prostitutes or drug dealers–nobody was sure–moving into the apartments next to yours where he/she was able to evict the tenants.
I would leave the building to work in The Bronx during crack, drive by shooting days. It took me awhile to realize that the people who were sleeping in the building’s vestibule could become enraged by something that I did, and harm me.
Unfortunately or fortunately, I accidentally deleted most of that post. It was filled with economic facts.
A woman in Lucia’s building, a doctor’s widow had her apartment taken over by crack dealers. New York Magazine wrote about how the people in the building banded together to get the dealers evicted and find a safe harbor for the woman.
But it took a long time, and Little Luce was born to a building that had crack vials and used condoms in the lobby. She was born in a hospital, but has lived in the apartment all her sixteen years.
Don’t ever think that Rudy G was the savior. We saved New York, we the people who stayed during the “bad” days.
Why aren’t New Yorkers ever given credit? We’re given enough blame. We used to be called loud, rude, arrogant, nasty, scary, and much more. The funny thing about that one is the people who were called that were my parents and grandparents generation–and mine in the 70’s and 80’s.
My generation, we were young and arrogant. We wanted to rule, to not play by old rules. We wanted to change the world but we had to earn livings. There was a recession that ended in August 1982. Some of us prospered before then; others after. Some….simply failed.
We still want to change the world. Somehow we think buying Ben & Jerry’s will help.
The generations who came before mine were people who would stop to help a stranger without thinking. They were wonderful people.
But many had foreign accents or said words like “beaut-e-ful.”
People are nicer about us now, except for the Bush lovers, but…we’re still considered a bit off. Though it’s practically mandatory to love Seinfeld and if he wasn’t the biggest stereotype…then again there’s truth in stereotypes.
I almost never watched it, because why watch an often funnier version of my own life? Pissed me off that it was funnier or Larry David thought of those things first.
Seinfeld Americanized us, but we were still a foreign nation to most of the USA. They looked at the new buildings, at the people who they would have hated fifteen years before, and suddenly we were acceptable.
Manhattan became an island geared toward tourists, two income families and the very rich.
I had a great time in the 70’s and 80’s except for all the people who got sick and died, but I was young, and when you’re young and kinda wild you continue being young and kinda wild. We really believed we were immortal.
I’m a woman. Women who used IV drugs or slept with IV drug users came down with AIDS. Most others didn’t. I have never tried an IV drug. That was so out of the scope of my world as to seem unbelievable.
I didn’t even insist on a condom. I was stupid. Way past stupid. But don’t tell me that women in other cities weren’t as stupid. And that many young women aren’t stupid now.
I changed solely because I finally began to grow up. I was only around 39.
My life was edgier, more downtown and had more drugs than Seinfeld’s life. Right they had none. Sure.
Seinfeld began filming in LA in 1989. They missed New York’s true nadir. They also got certain basic facts about New York wrong. But hey….
Think it was easy or fun for the people in Lucia’s building to save the woman, who unfortunately was killed by a bus, the week after moving, and to save their building from becoming a crack house? It wasn’t.
They didn’t understand what was happening at first. Adult Protective Serivces is a joke. They were so into protecting a persons rights they would let adults be abused. I’m hoping that they have changed since I was a social worker.
Rudy instituted some great quality of life laws his first term. But the economy was improving, and that had nothing to do with Rudy, and everything to do with the economy itself.
It was the economy, the economy and the economy. Also the crack generation died or matured out. It’s beginning to come back in more virulent forms. That’s hard to believe.
The stock market offically began its long climb upward on March 31, 1991, the day my father died. I have always found that sweetly and sadly ironic as he loved the market passionately.
Rudy became mayor in 94. Understand the significance. Times were changing. Life was becoming easier. In good times crime goes down. He helped but New York would have changed into the new gentrified city anyway.
Times were good. The housing market revived and began to go to places never seen before as did the stock market.
9/11 was an extraordinary experience. It showed New York at its best and worst. There was no communication between agencies–Rudy’s direct fault, and the firemen had trouble communicating. Rudy wasn’t exactly at his best when choosing commissioners. Bernie Kerik?
One of my biggest criteria for judging a leader is by the staff he/she picks, and Rudy fell on that front. It’s so damn important. There are many more reasons that I don’t like him but judge for yourself.
Here’s a collection of essays that tell the truth about Rudy. There’s nothing I hate more than overhearing tourists talk about how Rudy saved the city.
They, even, usually get the dates of his reign wrong.
On 9/10/01 Rudy was a mayor nobody, even his biggest admirers, except I guess Judy Nathan and Bernie Kerik, could stand.
I find it fascinating how people who didn’t live in New York in the 70s, 80s, up to about 96, want me to rewrite my history so that it fits their notions. They have hometowns. Places that aren’t New York. I was allowed to come into Manhattan by myself from the time I was twelve.
My sister moved to Philadelphia for two years. Our father begged her to come back to New York. This was our destiny. He told her she could move back to Philly after she retired. She was 30; she still listened. That was 1983.
By 1990 even my father, who thought he could vote for mayor though he lived on the Island, understood New York wasn’t the city he saw in his dreams. He grew up in Manhattan, in the tenements of East Harlem. He had nowhere to go but up. He did. He lived the New York/American dream.
I lived the New York dream. I would never deny that. It was wonderful while it lasted. Times changed. I changed.
Nothing is stopping me from leaving now but me. This is my history. This is where most of my life has taken place. Before 9/11 I had one life. It had been changing. i probably would have had to face false friendships sometime, but I will never know.
I will never know if the fall that killed my mother so suddenly and horribly was because it was her time, or was because she lost faith. She was the first person I knew to ask if I thought 9/11 was retribution.
That question and her death did haunt me until this year.
There’s a lot I will never know. I went on. I retreated behind this blog. Most bloggers didn’t live in Manhattan. They wanted to understand. Only I’m the wrong person to learn understanding from. I spent the first eighteen months after 9/11 and my mother’s death irritating people, or so it seemed.
I couldn’t leave at first because we had to settle the estate and that was hard. Very hard. It was easier for my sister but she had moved to Long Island five years before the attack. Long Island, the place I couldn’t wait to escape from when I was young became a place I escaped to.
There was Anthrax. That meant mail was delivered sporadically. I wouldn’t get bills and other important things. Things needed for my peace of mind and to settle the estate. But I was supposed to be understanding. I live on the Upper West Side, five miles due north from the attack.
I only wanted to get the estate settled. I wanted to find therapy to help me deal with all this. I didn’t want to pay $300-$500 an hour when so many people who hadn’t lost somebody in the aftermath were getting free help.
We were all victims. And it turned out that the free help was only for people who fit very specific criteria. Most people I knew who lived downtown weren’t eligible for help because they had been on psychotropics before the attacks or for other reasons. It was so damn complicated.
I stopped mourning and began living again. But my world had changed and I could never get back the old world. I never see that question addressed when people talk about 9/11.
We’re a strong city. People have backbone. We were supposed to go on and almost forget that it happened. I almost always forget now.
I love this city with a love that’s far purer than many people who act as cheerleaders. It’s easy to now. Every thing’s so pretty, so manicured…
But a box of cold cereal costs $6.99
If I see New York through jaundiced eyes, I’m entitled to. Actually I directly helped this city become what it is today. My muni bonds at work. My jobs that took me out of the privileged arena and into the world of people who were dependent on the system. My jobs didn’t make me a more empathetic person but one who vowed I would never become dependent on any system.
My jobs made me see this city through different eyes. They were wrong jobs for me. I was much better when I helped privileged people get great jobs. There are times I wish that I could go back to that mindset. The mindset of the privileged.
i know the underbelly too well now. I have heard too many stories. I know how easy it is too fall between cracks in New York. It happened to me also, but I was cloistered beneath privilege. I see too many cracks now. I’m scared that if I stay I will fall into a crevice. I’m scared that if I leave….I’m not exactly sure what I fear about leaving.
It does anger me when people tell me that I should say wonderful things about New York. My love is apparent. My fears are borne of experience. I have heard one hundred too many stories.
Feeling that I fell between the cracks after 9/11 makes me wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t been relatively young, healthy and cushioned.
Many of the stories I heard directly. Others were told to me by my father who was a CPA and knew many people. He would tell me about women who lived off looks and charisma. Then they became old. There were many other stories but those were the ones that caused me nightmares.
I decided to make this the last post in the old Courting, classic around somewhere with Pia. I don’t want the new Courting to be filled with stories like this. I have found that I tell these type stories best in fiction. They’re more believable that way. More universal. Less me.
I want the new Courting to be inviting. To be freed from my absurd back and forth, should I leave, should I stay dilemma.
I do promise that the new template is worth the wait.
I’m beginning to become sentimental for the design. I bought sheets I call my Courting Destiny sheets because they do resemble it…but they have green stripes. I liked them so much I bought one for the couch when company’s not here. My version of plastic on the furniture.