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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy 9th, September 11th!


September 11th didn't exist as a date til the year 2001.

Before 2001, the calendar went from September 10 directly to September 12. There was no September 11.

Also, there were no wars nor religions. Before September 11, 2001, people were just people, and days were just days. And we moved in our singular ways thru these days, lacking knowledge or understanding of evil, and then September 11, 2001, happened. September 11 crashed into our calendars and blew September 10 and September 12 apart--blew a hole so wide in our calendars that we can't erase it. It's all we talk about, this September 11 hole. It's what now defines us as a nation, and it's a hole in our calendar we keep trying to fill, an empty day we keep plugging bodies and wreckage and sentiment and money into, hoping it'll one day be filled solid. Hoping it'll one day be a real day and not some empty hole in the calendar between 9/10 and 9/12.

A few things we've thrown into the September 11 calendar-hole: personal freedom, freedom of the press, two wars, troop lives, political confidence, an economy, dignity, reason, civility. The hole remains, of course, because it is insatiable, which is exactly why it had to exist in the first place: September 11, 2001, willed itself into existence, like the universe itself. September 11, 2001, wasn't a freak of human error, or nature, or a lucky shot. When you have a country inclined (reclined?) to Jim Belushi sitcoms and double-wide hamburgers, there's a void to be filled. Something is missing, and needs to exist. The void manifest itself as September 11.

So we have this day, which insinuated itself into our calender 9 years ago and refuses to leave, and on this day we do several things: we lash out at religions, without lashing out at religion in general; we mourn; we celebrate public service without truly understanding it; we eulogize two hideous buildings (the two late, lamented fangs of the New York skyline); we miss the people who were living up until September 11 willed itself into existence; and we hate. We feel justified in our hate because September 11 extended our miserable year by one day--before September 11, our year certainly seemed shorter.

Story: I know a guy who was there when 9/11 blew 9/10 and 9/12 apart. The guy was in the wreckage and carnage. He was there in the dust. And here's what he told me once, over dinner, after a few drinks. He leaned in close, so that the dinky candle's flame on our dinner-ruined table made his face glow in the same way a well-placed flashlight makes a face glow during a camp horror story. He said, "It felt like the world was falling down. All I could see were shards of glass and paper and dust. But, logically, I knew the only thing falling were the buildings. Still tho. Man. It seemed as if the entire world had collapsed, and so that's what I took away from it. That's what everyone took away from it."

What he meant was that since 9/11 horned its way between 9/10 and 9/12, a lot of people have been convinced the world was falling down. All people see are dust and broken glass and paper. This is an illusion of perspective. This isn't true.

The world's still around, not flattened.

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