That September, we were on our way to the city for a show at HERE Arts Center. I think I've told this story here before, watching the dirty smoke rise over lower Manhattan as we approached on the New Jersey Turnpike and the bruised, sad eyes of our dear friends when we reached the city.
As we all do, I think about those days every fall. The way I commemorate the events is to renew my vow to avoid images of the planes crashing into the towers, the flames and smoke, the people jumping. We had no way of encountering those images at the time, but in conversations with traumatized friends in the days following it seemed clear to me that their trauma was caused as much by looking at the photos and video over and over and over as it was by what had actually happened. I decided I didn't need to see it.
As you can imagine, it's been impossible to completely avoid the pictures. They ambush me at newsstands, sneak up on me in commercials. But I look away quickly; I take in as little as possible.
I used to think that the reason I was not as revenge-crazy as it seemed the whole country was in 2001, and still (if slightly less) in 2003, was that I hadn't felt the visceral blow of seeing the attack. But last week, don't ask me why because it's not like me and it didn't even really seem voluntary, but I looked at the video of James Foley being beheaded, and I still don't have a taste for blood.
I'd say it's just temperamental, that I'm meek and tender-hearted, but that would be disingenuous. I can think of half a dozen times I've felt homicidal rage when I've been attacked or slighted or insulted or humiliated. I'm capable of it.
The video was shocking, and certainly justice is called for, but my feelings are somewhat abstract. I'm not angry. I guess I just don't feel like anyone did anything in particular to me.
I'm angrier at President Obama this morning than I am at ISIS. I probably shouldn't admit that today, but it's true.