September 14, 2001

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I left work late today, at 6. I knew we were supposed to light candles at 7 and I wanted to be home, to be a part of that, in time to do it. But I had so much work to do, I couldn't leave until 6. It takes me an hour to walk home. I thought I might still make it by seven if I didn't stop. As I walked home, I started to notice all the flags. I'd noticed some appearing here and there over the last few days, but hadn't realized just how many there were. I was touched by it and started taking pictures of flags. I was taking pictures a couple of times a block. I started walking up and down the side streets as I saw more and more flags, meandering my way home.

Finally I noticed it was 7 and I still had about 10 blocks left to go before I was home. I started looking for candles. At first I didn't see any, no one seemed to be putting them outside. But it's a windy night and foggy, so I could understand since the candles probably wouldn't stay lit. Then I saw a small family with candles standing in front of their house. Then another. Then a group of women. I looked up and saw candles in windows. I walked down the streets, snapping pictures, tears welling up, feeling choked up with emotion I was again surprised was so strong.

I have found myself welling up, choking up, several times a day as I hear some new story of someone talking about a loved one, holding the picture of a loved one up to a camera in hopes that someone has seen them, accepting the loss of a loved one. I cried along with a CEO on TV talking about how he lost most of his workers, over 700, who were on the 101st floor and above. He was only alive because he'd taken his son to his first day of kindergarten that morning and was running late for work. I cringed as he talked about running up to the tower and shaking every person who came out, asking them what floor they were on. His words kept ringing in my ears, "I got up to 91, I got up to 91."

Now I'm getting choked up by the moving tributes, the level of devotion and patriotism and love that's being shown by seemingly everyone in our country and in many others. I was instant messengering with my dad this afternon and he told me about the memorial service he'd gone to in the courtyard at the Federal Building in SF. He told me about a long moment of silence in the packed courtyard, then a woman's voice rising up acapella singing "America". Then they played Ray Charles' blues version of "America" as they filed out. It was so SF. I nearly cried just reading his story. Such a beautiful image for such a horrible reason.

I arrived home at 7:45, feeling moved and sad. I found the only candle I knew wasn't packed away, one I'd gotten in New Orleans. It struck me as appropriate. I'd bought it in a Voodoo temple. It's a candle for Eleggua, the Spirit of the Crossroads, Messenger of the Gods. "He is in charge of opening and closing all doors." "He is often called upon to remove evil and misfortune." I'm not a voodoo girl, I don't subscribe to any religion, but I figured lighting up for Eleggua couldn't hurt.

I find myself watching the news coverage yet again. I don't want to, especially now that things are looking bleak, but I'm still glued. I tear up at coverage of the prayer ceremonies, the memorials, the singing, the people in tears. I feel like I need to just cry, just sob, and get it out of my system. But I didn't lose anyone I love, I haven't visited New York since I was 18, and my life hasn't really changed at all so I don't feel like I have the right to express the same remorse as those I see on TV. Still, I did lose something. I lost something I didn't even really realize I could lose, something inside me that worried about all the little things in my life and felt they were hugely important. Now any time I think about my problems with money, work, the future, the past--they all seem dwarfed; I can't contemplate them in the face of the overwhelming grief so many others are feeling. And I miss being able to crawl under the covers because I'm unhappy with something relatively minor in my life. I miss all my little problems feeling big because they were my own. Now all the problems in my life are those of others, and those of the country, and I can only look at that big picture, that 110 story picture.

Go here: he who is without sin

Posted by Alyssa at September 14, 2001 10:50 PM
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