The least I can do is mention what’s happening in the Gaza. I can’t ignore the gory pictures and horrific stories. I can tell you this: I am lucky to be living in a war free zone. I don’t know what it is really like but I can only tell you what it was like to live in New York on Sept. 11th 2001.
I was there.
When you see people covered with debris and think you might be living in a war zone, it changes you. All of a sudden that paper I had due did not matter as much. When a Muslim friend of yours is almost arrested for having the same last name and initials as one of the hijackers, you realize that it doesn’t matter that the dude you are lusting after pays attention to you.
I was twenty-five when it happened. I was really into shoes and coats and purses back then. I had more of a retro style, like a hipster more than anything else. I would buy some of my clothes at vintage stores and the Salvation Army. I thought I was cool.
I cared about being and looking cool. I cared a lot about stupid superficial things until two planes hit two buildings. I still care about that stuff but it is a little less now.
I had a Sikh friend who lost his job after 911 because his office was in Battery Park,: that was the place that was hit. When it got hit, he stopped wearing a turban and wore his hair in a ponytail. He didn’t want to look like a terrorist.
People often think I’m Mexican or Muslim. I get “randomly” selected at airports every time I go.
I didn’t care about any of that when the twin towers were hit. I lived five miles away and I didn’t even think about my area getting hit. I thought about moving on. I didn’t watch the television coverage of the attacks because they happened in my backyard. I saw missing people signs everywhere.
There were vigils for the dead everywhere I went.
I had lived in a completely peaceful area of Michigan most of my life. I did not know war. I did not know the worries of violence on the streets.
All of a sudden I knew something new. I knew I could die at any moment.
What did I do about that? What did we all do in New York about that?
We got together in groups and drank more and ate more for a little while. Sometimes we talked about what was going on, but mostly we tried to joke about other things. I was in a writing program and did not write about it.
I’ve seldom written about it.
I’m writing about it now because I think I’m ready to talk about living in what was considered a possible war zone. It wasn’t a real war zone, I did not see dead or dying or wounded people on the street. I heard about them though. I heard people scream that day. No one showed up for work that day in the restaurants because no one could get anywhere by train.
No one cared.
I didn’t know anyone who died. I’m incredibly lucky.
I didn’t die or get injured, I’m even luckier than I thought.
When you think you could die when you go outside you are living a different kind of life. You become different. I collected shoes at the time. Let me tell you what I thought my collection after the towers got it: Who the fuck cares about shoes?
I have shoes.
There are people living in war torn countries with no shoes.
I didn’t want to give away my shoes, don’t get me wrong. But all of sudden I was walking in someone else’s shoes when I began to live with fear in the back of my mind.
I lived next door to a girlfriend beater and drug dealer. He lived with his parents, they all lived in what I assumed was a two-bedroom apartment. When I first moved in I created my “bitch face” so that every time he walked by me I made it clear he was not to look for too long.
Sometimes when I walked the streets of New York City and saw signs of people missing and walked past vigils of people crying, my “bitch face” came back on automatically. I wasn’t mad at anyone in particular. I was mad at the world. Sometimes I cried with the world at the vigils.
The world had not changed that much, war was everywhere, but suddenly my world changed.
We are so privileged to live in such a peaceful country. Yes I am aware that there are mass shootings and drive by shooting and too many fucking guns. I know all of that, but even after all of that, we live in relative peace.
Look at what is happening in Gaza. I don’t have to show you the pictures or describe in detail the level of pure violence. I don’t want to talk about the reasons and the political pros and cons.
I want to tell you that we only have a small understanding of what it is like to live in a war torn country. I want to tell you that we need to do whatever we can to try to stop this from going on.
For you if that means standing up and holding up a peace sign on the street, than you go on…For me I am writing you a request to think about it.
I don’t know what I can do except say a prayer for those innocent people that are involved in all this. I know a prayer is not exactly political action. Maybe writing about it is.
Share this this if you agree.