18 years ago this date became etched in something stronger than stone. In blood and horror, in loss and destruction, in fear and retaliation. But something brighter too. I would venture to say there is a tenacious streak, a solve it any way possible bit, that place where survival for all takes over and lending hands come from every direction while individual needs take a back seat. It pulls together unlikely alliances during the worst of times to change the tragic trajectory. This is what we understand to be wholly American. From our small towns to urban neighborhoods you can feel the ripple reshaping torn communities into something unified, something that makes us proud.
Driving into New York via tunnel we ascended from the darkness to spy the old and new spires welded into something spectacular as the holiday heat launched us into hot hot hotness and we thought oh my how can we meander from west to east and north to south to survey all that makes up this vibrant sea of sweeping rainbow faces along the continuum that makes the 7.6 + billion on our planet all coursing from there to here? We were halted, remembering we are all on this same revolving Earth. As we hold children in cages. As we demand a wall. As we tear down freedom for those with none. As we argue between generations. As we forget love matters. Let’s hold that.
What a treat to play the tourist in a city we know well! It seems like forever that we made time to visit some special spots, like Lincoln Center, or were able see the World Trade Center Memorial. New York City is rich with history and story and life at every turn, and over the Thanksgiving break we took full advantage of our days there.
Memories abound where my mother is concerned, but I do have a favorite. Although it is a singular experience, when we attended Alexander McQueen’s retrospective, “Savage Beauty,” that summer day in 2011 exemplifies noteworthy traits that my mother had in droves. Although the Metropolitan Museum of Art allowed its members to skip the monster line or attend on Mondays, there “closed” day, just to be part of the fun, my mother (who was a member) and I, stood on the 2 hour line with the masses. This curated event of a hundred ensembles and seventy accessories was unprecedented and there was no way my mother would not be part of the crowded excitement; “By the time the exhibit closed, over 650,000 people had seen it, making it one of the most popular exhibits in the museum’s history, and its most popular fashion exhibit ever” (Savage Beauty Exhibition). #1: My mother loved a well-dressed party.
daily we are cautioned to embrace the journey. love the highs. learn from the lows. forget the destination. this is not easy. at least for me. I’m impatient. thrilled with the takeoff. headed somewhere. with the notion of arrival. it takes something big and awesome or small and stinging or something tenacious and afflicting to get me to stop this pursuit. the chase of the high. the push to get there already.
I’ve written about the beach before. About dinner picnics. About July along the Long Island coast. There is no stopping my reminiscing when it comes to the sea shore, for my people are water people. Not the Maine coast type. Those people just want to look at unrelentingly cold waves. No, we are people clamoring to be in the waves before breakfast. We are people who live to body surf in warm waves until last light. We are also the people who stay in the shadows during the sun light hours. Fair-skinned Irish. Sunburners. Our beach hours came after 3:00 pm, the magically approved time according to our father, the fairest of all.
When you imagine harbors do you think commerce, trade, travel, or the changing landscapes of our waterfronts? The elegant white sails of the Sydney Opera House or the sturdy fishing boats along the Boston seacoast might come to mind… Port cities provide a rich history, complete with dock workers, sea captains, and a rough and tumble crew that have navigated the mysterious deep waters for decades, bringing us to and from our destinations, delivering exotic goods, or facing whatever the currents demand.
My familiar harbor surrounds New York City, the East River drifting under the Brooklyn Bridge then gliding toward the Statue of Liberty and cruising along the Hudson River. Watching the lights pop all over the city with its 8+ million population is a magnificent sight… and on this night I witnessed all that and more…