Posted by: perchancetodream | September 11, 2009

74 Days

In August 2001 I began a project called under a different pseudonym.  You write 100 words a day – exactly – and posted it on the website.  It was a good exercise in discipline.  In culling out what was really important about the day; what was noticed.

Having looked back at years previously where I really had no memory of the ins and outs of my daily life, I found this project to be a way to capture at least the essence of a day; in this case 74 days that are very much on my mind today.

August 12, 2001 was my 36th birthday.  I was living in NJ, in an apartment I’d been in for many years but was about to move to Queens as I was starting to spend more and more time in the city after work.  In fact I had double leases in August so that I could paint and prep my new apartment.  One foot in each life. I was a little out of sorts that year – truly single for the first time in years and enjoying it.  There were a number of men in my life but none were relationships.  Some were exes, some were friends, some were people collected in odd ways including the bland cousin of a major celebrity who’d decided that I was his dream girl (regardless of the fact that I felt VERY much the opposite).  It was a time of introspection.  I felt the change in the air.  My life was in flux but I had no idea what direction things would take me in. I was excited and, honestly scared, about where things were headed.

In late August I went to a music show at the World Trade Center.  Not only was the show amazing but I met a colleague that I’d only known by phone and email and who continues to be a close friend.

I’d renewed some old friendships while having scheduling problems getting in touch with current friends. I ended the month by piggy-backing on a trip to a science fiction convention that two close friends were going to.  It was one of those frivolous spontaneous things that I was able to do as I had no commitments and, for the first time in my life, a little extra cash. Looking back, I think it’s funny as the last thing I probably needed, given my frame of mind, was to be thrown into the alternate universe of a scifi convention.  But the weekend was fun if a little too intense and I’m shocked at the positive reactions that other people have to me. I meet someone although, back in the real world, any thought of it being a real relationship quickly dissipates.

Early September is filled with my tangling and untangling myself from that meeting.  And looking expectantly towards my move and my October trip to Ireland. I was emotionally high and exhausted at the same time.  Very uncharacteristically, I wasn’t really sleeping.  Instead I was going to hear live music, staying up all night on the phone, wandering around my neighborhood hoping to burn off the emotional intensity that seemed unshakable around me.

I wrote last year, here, about my 9/11 experiences.  Listening to WNYC internet radio as I write this, they’re talking about how the city has been split between those who were there and those who weren’t. And how those who weren’t just can’t understand.  That was true at the time and I’m sure it is still now.

Mere days after 9/11 I moved to Queens – the day the bridge from NJ reopened.  I remember not being able to watch TV or listen to the radio unless it was news or one goth album that I’d bought at the scifi fest and that was frighteningly appropriate.  I unpacked. I volunteered at ground zero.  I walked around in a fog, trying to find joy in the things that I loved – even though that was hard there was a solidarity, a certain comfort about being together with people you didn’t have to talk about it with.  People who understood.

Somewhere in that time, my life settled.  It felt uncomfortably and uncharacteristically calm.  So long as the wind didn’t blow in just the “right” direction, so that you couldn’t smell the charred metal, life seemed to return to a new version of normal. I spent early October visiting friends, mending fences, trying to hold onto the new-found perspective that we all seemed to have in those days.

Mid-October was spent getting ready for my Ireland trip.  My first trip abroad, I was taking it alone and was thrilled by that.  I was planning on spending a few days doing nothing but listening to music. Of course, that isn’t really what happened.  On my first night there, (yes, while in a pub listening to music), I met hubby. And from there on, it’s a different story altogether.

I look back and who I was during that time and I know that there are things that I’ve learned.  And also, things that I’ve lost.  In some ways I like myself better then but when I step back, I see that it’s the feeling of being in the center of a tornado that brought certain things out in me.  I was focused but unstable in the intensity of my options and my life. I wonder now if it’s possible to retain the good out of that; to live in a (literally) calm place far removed from the glorious tumult of NYC and to hold those lessons in your heart.


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