Silence filled the air. Well the average silence in the city when nothing extreme was happening; cars honking loudly as their melodramatic drivers over exaggerate a car a few ahead of them stopping to long at a red light, or swerving as they illegally chatter nonchalantly on a phone. Brakes screech in terror and ease into a quiet moan as the brittle tar below the wheel scrape and scratch like steel wool on paper. You could hear people moving along evolving in time, each one with their own personal situations. Some, obvious- a man in lime green leggings and aquamarine hair, chuckling in mere amusement. No companion walking along side him to here the ridicule, besides a scruffy looking dog through who’s eyes you could see had heard one too many of these to still grip interest, while others- a pretty girl with wavy blond hair, flawless skin, a golden tan, and boys taking a second look as she passes walks alongside her friends. But zoom in on this young child and you can perceive the dark honey brown roots growing in and the bleach beginning to fade, the bikini line from the recent secret visit to the tanning bed, and the most hidden condition that she had buried down deep within her intake; as she passes through the crowds- her friends still laughing and gossiping she looks down. Her smile looses its brightness and the corners of her lips become a thin line as she sighs closing her eyes only somewhat longer than the average blink. She then pulls out her fake, long lasting smile until, once again, she must take a break from the life she’s tip toed into. These situations within one’s soul were unique, no exact problem existed anywhere else. But by the end of this day both of these two completely different people would be one and the same. The man in the lime green leggings would never see his best friend from the shelter that he had been staying at for almost ten years again, and that hidden girl would see the sorrow in her stepsister Leanne's eyes for the rest of her life. Even at the wedding of Leanne’s widowed father and her own divorced mother she would go the bathroom and cry. Same time, same place, they had lost what seemed like everything. You could hear the newspaper vendor around the corner shouting loudly the rip off price for a few sheets of paper. And then something was different. It had been the usual NYC quiet, but then it became the desert of Arizona quiet. Suddenly everyone on that block gathered to each corner even in the middle of the street where cars had slammed on the breaks. That corner of Barclay and West Broadway was filled with hundreds of dropped jaws and for a second, (less than a few) the entire world stopped and watched. In silence. Completely unable to comprehend the situation, what it meant for the future, if it would impact them or not. Then, there was action. It was like an avalanche slowly beginning to fall apart. Metal and people. At first a quiet roar, like being a few miles away from Woodstock, then you transport and you’re right there on stage. Running like a stampede in Pamplona. But the bulls in Spain have a target: the men in front of them. Right here, right now, you were just going. Blankly pounding one foot after another onto the concrete until it died down and bit by bit the puzzle of what was happening was snapped into place in your head. Hours later the streets were filled with whispers, anger, and grief. It was like being at one big funeral. Some screamed at the top of their lungs, dealing with the most difficult thing the human mind is forced to deal with- acceptance. Others sat in the middle of the empty streets, tears streaming down their faces, and more sat at home blinds down staring at theTV, palms covering lips, eyebrows creased together, overwhelmed with stress and disbelief, going to the phones every so often checking for a dial tone that would not return for hours. Every tunnel in the city was jammed packed with cars, accidents happening left and right. The lanes entering the city were almost bare, one or two cars streaming past every few minutes, their drivers in panic as though they had missed out on the latest drama and it was almost to late to be filled in. On that one day and months following the Manhattan Island would be the most united place on Earth. Brother hugging brother, sister holding hands with sister. We were their for each other because wether we had lost someone or not, we were here. We payed the price. We all knew exactly how that day felt, to have no security, no wall to hide behind, but all the same it was the worst day in the history of the United States of America. They say silence is golden, but I have never seen it like this. Silence is empty, blank, a white canvas with a new paint kit sitting beside it. Before that horrific event on that what seemed like a warm, average Tuesday morning in September, that canvas had been covered in beautiful colors- red, almond, aqua, azure, bisque, pink, turquoise, maroon, lavender and God so many more, but when the white noise fizzed into an uproar it was like the canvas being submerged into a tub of warm water as small droplets splattered all around the floor and, closing your eyes, you could hear the thump of the contact between the liquid and the fabric and the air bubbles sizzling and rising to the surface like small screams and cries as the exquisite art was being scrubbed clean. Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, month by month and year by year, with the help of our guardian states, and ally countries we could slowly but surely pick up our brushes and begin to add the primary colors advancing to the more individual, unique colors and paint the mural that once again hangs boldly, firmly, and tenaciously in the soul of every proud American.
June 21, 2011