Horatio

Horatio
[Photo by Jacquelyn Griffin)

Monday, September 11, 2017

After the Fire



After the fire, the fire still burns
The heart grows older but never, ever learns
The memories smolder and the soul always yearns
After the fire the fire still burns.


I can't do another September 11 post. Just can't, not the way I used to, not after last year's post.

Somehow, the 15th anniversary was a watershed for me. The events of that day ceased from being the present recollection recorded (as we lawyers say) to being history.

Graven in my mind and heart, mind you, a part of the matrix that forms the person I am today, no doubt. But that person isn't the man who saw the towers fall on TV, only to be evacuated from Reagan Airport, joining a parade of stunned Americans who were, briefly, refugees in their own land. Time has passed him by.

The WTC was my neighborhood for 8 years. The shattered Borders Bookstore at the base of the complex, one of the few storefronts visible from outside the fencing after the collapse? Found a bookmark from it just last month. A frisson ran through me. A fragment of a time long gone.

I know people who were actually in danger that day, unlike myself, and knew one man who died. I lived through the Opéra bouffe version of 9-11, and I damned well know it. As to the main event, I'll never forget, and it's always a part of me, but it's a established fact, not a present reality. It's history--my own history, but a given now.

Like all wounds, the passage of time has not left it open. The gash is now a cicatrix.

I will always miss the younger me, 35 years old, with a false but very convincing sense of a Pax Americana. Terrorism was something you read about elsewhere--Oklahoma City didn't change that, and the 1993 WTC bombing somehow didn't either.

So we live in a different world now. Our special immunity is gone, and we carry on.

Just like New York City did in the wake of the disaster, come to think of it, with the stench of death and ruin in the air.

I remember parking on the top of a garage I often used, with abandoned ash-covered cars, their owners among the lost, with the remnants of the reek that disfigured my city still tangible.

We went on.

We go on.

We remember.

After the fire, the fire still burns
The heart grows older but never, ever learns
The memories smolder and the soul always yearns
After the fire the fire still burns.



2 comments:

Denis Murphy said...

Brilliant, old cock, brilliant

Anglocat said...

Thanks, my friend.