Upside Down Downtown, 2001, Collage on rag
Twenty years ago, the night before what we now all call 9/11, I was having dinner with a friend from the gallery with her little black and white puppy, Tuxedo. We ate in the kitchen at the back of my floor-through loft at 156 Chambers Street. There were two ceiling-high windows that were filled with the North Tower a few blocks south. One of the things that we discussed were the Artist Studios in the World Trade Center, a program developed for artists to have space to work and magnificent views over our beloved city. My gallery had arranged for me to get one of those choice spaces and yet I kept putting off doing the finishing things needed to make it happen In a dreamlike state, whenever I was asked about it I’d automatically mouth: “Well…it will take care of itself….” but for some reason I could never get myself to do that last thing I needed to do to make it happen, some paperwork I recall or maybe just a phone call. It was like I went into a hypnotic disconnect whenever it was mentioned. Yet it was a real opportunity, one I wanted. My gallery friend, again, urged me as we were drinking red, eating pasta with tomato sauce as the North Tower smiled down on us. She said to get on with it, that she had already spoken to the director of it who was waiting for me to complete whatever I hadn’t. “It’s yours!” she emphasized, “Just do it!” “Well…it will take care of itself….” I blankly repeated.
It is things like that come back to me as we honor all who perished and who living were forever changed, hurt, and scarred. The smallest incidents seem now to glow with meaning. It may be the nature of tragedy that we seize on anything that gives us an explanation of our supreme connectedness. My friend is now thriving in Texas, Tuxedo has already gone to God, as have all of my pets from then and here I am living out in the country in the Hudson Valley far removed from Tribeca and the reminders of those events. That evening sitting with my dear friend, enjoying our meal, patting her sweet new puppy, and catching up on things, marks for me the last moment when things were normal. I feel so lucky to have lived before that day and to have known life before Terror overtook us.