In New York, people are never really strangers. We’re New Yorkers. We’re all in it together, in a way. Maybe it is because we spend so much time cooped up together in elevators and subway cars and small apartments and super-small grocery stores. Especially when something goes wrong, everyone starts talking to each other and they work out the problem (stuck elevator, subway suddenly not going to Manhattan anymore, etc.) You know, unless they get all yelly at each other. I’ve found that things err on the side of solidarity.
That was the thing about September 11, 2001. It was like the whole city was stuck on the same elevator.
There was this pause in the city.
Before the whole rest of the country got all American-flaggy on us.
Before politicians opened our wound for their political gain.
Before the phrase, “Now more than ever,” invoked in me the gag reflex.
Before all of that, there was just this feeling that we were together. It was the only time in my 15 years of living here when I felt like I could just look right into people’s eyes.
I don’t care how many years pass. There will never be a time for me when it is ok to joke about 9/11, or make a TV movie about it. There will never be a time when it should be used by any one person for his or her own gain. For me, it will always be me and the other New Yorkers looking at each other in shock as the elevator comes to a halt between floors* and thinking, “Oh shit. Are you ok? Are you ok? Let’s try not to panic. How are we going to get out of this?”
*Ok, it was really more like the elevator was invaded by aliens or turned itself inside out or turned into a gorilla with us still inside of it, but for the metaphor’s sake, let’s just say it was stuck.