Wednesday, May 4, 2011

on chapter endings

My friend Siobhan wrote the other night that Osama bin Laden's death is not the end of the book, that there is still much more to write, but rather the end of a very long, painful chapter.  Mike and I were watching the Mets game Sunday night when the breaking news alert came across the bottom of the screen.  He flipped to CNN and I went to the computer to find out more.  We didn't talk as we read the Washington Post news blast that bin Laden had been killed, but I grabbed his hand which was resting on my shoulder and squeezed it.  We didn't celebrate, I wouldn't call it that, but there was a sigh between us, a collective feeling of relief. 

I felt guilty for feeling that, but I've given it some thought, and I think it's alright.  And maybe that feeling of relief is amplified because we live in New York.  Maybe it's not.  But we have lived with a level of fear each day since September 11th that we did not know on September 10th.  If the lights flicker off for too long on the subway as we dip underneath the East River at Queensboro Plaza, I catch my breath in anticipation for what might come next.  When I daydream on the commute in to work, there are times when I am rattled alert by images in my mind of an imaginary explosion, of scrambling out of the subway into the darkness of the tunnel, of working my way up a ladder and out of a manhole cover into a chaotic street.  It is a reoccurring, wide awake dream and the man that brought that to me is no more. 

Osama bin Laden was the face of the fear we have lived with for a decade and even though I know there are others like him, that we are still not safe from repercussions, that our own country plays a large role in the anger and violence that persists around the world, I am still allowing myself this feeling.  This feeling that I can't quite put into words, because it's not happy or celebratory or vengeful, it's just relief.

I took this in the fall of 1995 (the kodak stamp on the back reminded me of the date), standing in the center of the street while my Dad watched for traffic. I still can't cross 6th ave without turning my head to where they used to be.

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