Cover of the Village Voice. September 2001.
I want to talk about sex today, but it’s not on my mind.
It’s always strange when another year cycles around. It reminds me that there are a few ways I keep track of how old I’m getting. One is to watch my nephew, or other children I know, grow up. My nephew’s still a baby, but each time I see him get bigger, I know I’m getting older. And with each birthday he has, I know that I’ll measure my time too. 9.11 is another way. With each passing year I can’t believe how long it’s been since it all happened. I can’t believe that I was here, but not there, when the planes struck, that for me it wasn’t just something I could watch on TV. Sometimes I wish it was, especially with how sick people are getting these days from being too close to things that burned down. I think that’s just the hypochondriac in me flaring up. Still, every time I stare at that big, gaping hole in the middle of the cement jungle, I remember vividly.
Today, at the gym, I was watching some CNN coverage of the event. There was a promo for an upcoming segment, one on remembering the search for victims after the towers fell. They flashed to a woman holding a photo of her lost husband. She was asking people to help find him. The man in the photo was my friend. A friend I had known since high school. Every time I think about it I cry. Even now, as I type this, the tears are starting again. Perhaps that’s because when I was born I was bestowed the gift of an extra-sentimental gene, one that makes it easy for me to get sad and cry. Sometimes I’m happy to be able to freely relieve myself of excess water in my eyes, but not when I’m working out at the gym. I guess if anyone asked me today if I was okay, I could have blamed it on eyeball sweat. But I know they’d know I was lying.
I am thinking too much right now. I still don’t understand what happened on 9.11. I mean, I do understand each technical step-by-step as to how it all went down, but I don’t understand the nature of man. How we can kill massive amounts of innocent people. How we’re guilty of doing it now in Iraq. And I know that this is not the last time it will happen. I just don’t get the nature of killing. I’ve always thought that a lot of men who kill for the sport of killing human beings, as opposed to all the men, and women, who have joined the armed forces to train to “protect,” have an extra Y chromosome. There is a condition where people are born XYY. But nothing I’ve read says the extra Y really matters. Not more than a few IQ points, and inches, at least.
On 9.11 I lived right by the armory. The place where they set up space for people to wait for their lost loved ones to emerge. Only thing was no one ever showed up. You were either dead or alive, with few exceptions. It was pretty black or white. Walking around today I saw a really strange thing. Like nature was talking to New York. Today was, and is, a sunny day, but there are black clouds in the sky. I’d like to believe it’s a sign of the actual, physical, world in mourning. It’s strange and beautiful and oddly comforting.
I don’t know what else to say. I mean I can say call someone you love and tell them, but I hate dedicating one day of the year to that endeavor. Maybe I’ll just ask for sex tonight. The comfort of being with the man I love might be what I need to stop thinking about that picture on the TV. About that and everything else. The overcrowded buses, the stench, the fear. It’s not like today is the only day I think about this stuff, but today it’s so in our faces and I want to scream. Not because it shouldn’t be in my face, but because I wish we could all just fucking get along. Make love and peace and not crash planes into buildings or torture people. Perhaps I’m dreaming big, but it’s all I can do today.