Friday, September 2, 2011

What is Remembered, Lives



You would not believe how many people wondered, during the earthquake last week, if we were being bombed. These people have never experienced an earthquake so they had nothing to compare the sensation to. Here in the midatlantic, except for once every one hundred years, the ground holds still, so it was disconcerting to many, to say the least. I knew immediately what was happening, but I lived in California for 15 years. I know many who had no way of understanding what was going down. It makes me sad to think their minds went first to terrorism.

The ten year anniverary of September 11 is right around the corner. I expect a whole lot of press about it. The pictures of the burning towers will be posted and reposted, and the vids of the towers falling will pop up, I expect. People will tell their stories, where they were, how it unfolded for them. I know someone who worked close to the WTC, was there, up close and personal, BOTH times it was bombed. On 9/11, she walked home to Brooklyn after the towers fell. Though she is as tough as any New Yorker could ever be, she admits she can't remember one second of that walk home. Wow.

There's a way in which I welcome the chance to revisit memories of that day. It feels like another lifetime in many ways, so very long ago. It's not easy to think about, not fun bringing the memories into consciousness, but it's important to remember, to honor the hugeness of that event, the impact and the way this city changed afterwards.

This morning I'm thinking about how the internet has made possible the rebirth of oral history. No longer do we leave historical storytelling up to the professionals - people who write books. Nope. It's democratic (small d) here at the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Anyone who can get their hands on a computer or cell phone has a platform for telling his or her unique stories. I love all the versions of "truth" floating around here. It's a rich, complex, textured "oral" history - as it should be - we've created in cyberspace. People tell their stories on youtube, post pics on Flikr or notes on Facebook. We blog. All the stories are the same, all are different. Looked at all together, this "oral" history is more bewildering than any book by James Joyce, for instance. Perhaps not quite as artful, but at least as complex. Through the internet we are co-creating a layer of history that will rest on the landscape after we're gone. Don't censor yourself, for god's sake, but think before posting anywhere, hey? This is our legacy, what we put out for public consumption. It's interesting to think about.

I will definitely post my story here next Sunday. Looking forward to reading about how others remember that day ten years on, I really, really do. Salaam, Shalom, peace.


The leaves are reflecting the stoplight. They haven't started changing colors yet.

7 comments:

B. said...

The earthquake was much more frightening when you work just 3 blocks from the White House and the first thought in your head is "bomb." Earthquakes don't happen here. I was one of those people that was terrified at what the ground rattling COULD HAVE been. Glad I was wrong! September 11 is still very fresh in my memory - even 10 years later. Great post!

Also, you have great photos on this blog! ^_^

Reya Mellicker said...

YES, definitely, B. The people who work close to the Capitol were likewise wondering. It makes sense - don't know where my mind would have turned if I hadn't been in so many earthquakes already!

Kerry said...

The thing I like best about the internet is the way everybody can put their story out there; I look forward to reading what you say about 9-11.


Look at the way you captured those leaves: beautiful! They're trying on their fall outfits.

Steve Reed said...

Interesting you wrote about this today -- I was just scanning photos for my own 9/11 entry. I watched a TV retrospective about 9/11 last night that was quite upsetting. It's amazing how events that traumatic can settle into a quiet space in our brain, and then when they're roused, they're just as painful as ever.

I like your reference to "democratic storytelling," even though that's basically what put me out of work. :)

Elizabeth said...

We are sort of dreading all the hooplah and ceremony and hootin' and hollerin' that will accompany the anniversary of 9/11.
It was pretty damn traumatic for the whole country --and more so for New Yorkers.
I do remember how lovely everyone was to one another,
how kind and supportive
but I do hate flag waving and motorbikes roaring and people using sadness for their own ends.

The most interesting thing I've seen on TV was a thoughtful 9/11 widow who travelled to Rwanda to talk to people there who had suffered traumatic loss..... I think both sides gained much.
As for R and me and the dog, well, we will hunker down and try to be peaceful and pray for kindness.....
Have a super weekend Reya.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh Elizabeth - see why I love you so much? You will practice indolence, allowing all the flag waving, etc. to swirl around you.

Steve as you know I LOVE being on a wavelength with you. For me, processing or grieving, or whatever it is we do in the face of the inexplicable, comes in waves and cycles, sometimes quiet at the back of the mind, sometimes, like on anniversaries, front and center.

It will be a REally Big Deal in DC as well. Poor old Pentagon, a crumbling relic of the cold war, or so it seems to me.

Pauline said...

memory is such a selective thing so what lives on there is often selective, too...

loved the photo of the right side up and upside down you joined in the middle!