Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Sirens

I was completely taken by this cemetery in the middle of New York. Death, right in the middle of one of the most alive cities in the world.

Nine years ago I flicked the morning news on, six months pregnant with Max. Wanting to catch the headlines, I waited and waited. They seemed to playing some kind of Bruce Willis film ... maybe it was the film critic going over his favourite action movies?

I watched the towers fall down so many times. Remember how it kept getting replayed? On all four major channels? I think the ABC finally went over to some childrens shows. I flicked over to them sometimes. Just for a breather, soothe myself from the horror.

The whole world was watching the world fall apart.

Dave and I saw so many amazing things in our recent time in New York. I'd never been before, and yet the sound of the city was so very familiar. Every time I heard a police siren, ambulance .... especially a fire truck, I wondered. Did that particular siren I was hearing ..... make the terrible sound of alarm, nine years ago? I saw so many firetrucks. Did they go to the aid of their friends? Were they covered in that terrible white dust, on That Day?

We had to visit Ground Zero, pay our respects. For so many years I've wondered what it would've been like to be there. Having the day start so normally, finish with such dark.

(When I took this next photo, I noticed the workers *totally* checking me out. Blatantly. They were all standing there, having a smoke, rebuilding the site of one of the biggest tragedies of all time .... staring at the redhaired Aussie tourist.)

I followed their gaze to my right, to gloat to Dave that I. Still. Had it! Until I noticed the gorgeous blonde next to us, a short denim skirt, thighs up to her eyes. SPEWING! I kissed Dave instead, as he looked up in awe of the cranes and building work. "Hon, check out the scaffolding. Unbelieveable!"

It must have been - it takes a lot to impress my builder husband.

We went into the temporary museum. Terrible artifacts were on display .... two police handguns, melted and molded together. Debris, chunks of airplane. Twisted, awfully grotesque huge pieces of metal, from the actual buildings themselves. I touched them, feeling immense sadness. Something I had only seen and heard about ... was right in front of me.

It felt exquisitely painful. And holy.

We went downstairs and I filled out a card, writing my thoughts and condolences, to be stuck up on a wall as part of an exhibition.

Then there were the photos. I turned to see some missing posters and photos on a wall. I remembered seeing all of those hopeful people on the news, waiting in line to talk to the cameraman, begging for news on their loved ones.

The next wall made me suck in my breath. And cry.

I hope there is never another wall like this, ever again.


  1. Eden, every time I go to NYC for the memorial, even all these years later, my mind shifts to a shocked place that I keep thinking will dissipate with time.

    It never does.

    Seeing the enormity of the site in person is something that can't be shown with photos. Right?

    With BigD having so many friends in the NYPD and NYFD, we have been to some events, closed to the public, that bring home the personal losses of so many of the families. It is still so surreal to me.

    There was an innocence in America that changed that day. Hell, it really changed the world.

    The fact that you, from the other side of the world, had the same visceral reaction as we do, gives me hope.

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  3. We were on holiday in Byron bay and I thought it was a joke or a bad film too. We sat in the holiday house,in the warm green sub tropics and watched those towers come down in sheer horror. I still can't get my head around it...

  4. Beautiful post.
    Before 9/11 I never understood how people who had lived through Pearl Harbor day felt or remembered that day. Now I do. I will never forget where I was (at work), trying to call my boyfriend at the time to tell him to turn on the TV and watching in horror as I went from patient room to patient room at what was happening on the other side of the continent. Wishing there was something more I could do.

  5. Thank you for honoring what was mostly an American tragedy...

    Do you think that all the places where there have been such a great number of deaths feel holy in that way? I have been to a couple places where I've felt that vibe...and then I think of places like parts of the Middle East and Africa and I wonder if you can feel that in an entire country.

  6. I was completely overwhelmed by the atmosphere in St Pauls Chapel. I couldn't stop crying. Had to go outside to breathe. Its wonderful to feel the full force of empathy.

  7. I couldn't bring myself to post about this on 9/11. I just can't revisit that emotional space. I visited the Oklahoma City memorial a few years back. There is a wall outside with messages and photos attached. There were baby bibs on the wall in memory of the children lost in the on-site nursery.

    Something like that carries the energy of what happened, and all the emotional energy of the survivors and the families of the lost. When I get close, I can feel it and it is overwhelming. There are days when I'm strong enough for that but many when I'm not. I admire you for making that pilgrimage. It reminds us that there are people in the world who feel nothing -- a fact I resist, but it's there.

    And they were totally checking you out. I'm sure the blond was a cross-dresser.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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