New York is alive and well in 2011.
On Sept. 11, 2001 I was living with my then-girlfriend and our Greek puppy in Brooklyn. After the surreal horror of the day, the black smoke billowing up from the burning ruins of the World Trade Center and darkening the horizion, we decided it might be best to be in the company of fellow Brooklynites. So we went to a local bar to have a beer and…well, what do you do in such a situation?
Mostly everyone just sat around sipping drinks. It seemed like we were afraid to even talk. But talk about what? What had just happened was beyond the ken of our ability to even grasp what was going on (who knew the next blast wasn’t just around the corner?). This was the beginning of something, or the end of something, or both at the same time. We were confused, frightened, shocked. But we were together.
I’m not rejoicing at the death of Osama bin Laden. I’m not sure I like seeing all-night party people in the streets of Manhattan celebrating his removal from life on Earth with face paint and banners, as if it were a sports victory. But I do understand the elevated emotions at knowing we got him. That he wasn’t eliminated in a drone operation, but by the firearm of a US soldier in hand to hand combat. There’s something primitive in this, I admit. But one enjoys pausing on the last thought to fly through bin Laden’s brain before he met his demise. A novel or a poem will surely be written about it one day. And I doubt very much it was “Allahu Akhbar.”