Ten years. A decade.
At 8:30 this morning I go to the Hudson River a block from my Hoboken home, heading for Pier A Park, which juts out in the water and makes you feel like you can touch downtown Manhattan. I am greeted by barricades at the entrance of the park.
Must be the danged NFL, which is broadcasting from there later. That decision had to have been made with safety and efficiency in mind because it was completely lacking in common sense from an emotional standpoint. Geography, proximity. They’re important. The connection felt from Pier A to downtown is palpable. Shut out on this day.
I shift uneasily for a moment, coffee in hand, and think of all those who are accustomed to going there for solace and connection. Like a tradition. Poof. Not today.
I shuffle to a bench along the promenade. On one side, a man weeps into a woman’s lap. On the other, a homeless woman with her possessions piled high in her cart just stares. I sit and stare, too. I linger.
And then our new park, Pier C, beckons. The laughter of children hits me as I approach, as there is a playground on the side that faces land. The river side is quiet. People are scattered, some with dogs and strollers. I marvel at how dogs sense the mood and relax into their owners. Most are staring at downtown Manhattan.
The Freedom Tower is starting to emerge into the skyline now. For a moment I take note that all the people sitting around me in quiet reflection are strangers that I feel connected to, much like that day. I don’t know how they vote and I don’t give a shit.
One woman and her exuberant little boy stop when I wave to him and smile. She says she didn’t expect to be affected this way this year. I say, “Me neither.”
I am purposely sitting in what feels like a direct line from the sun to its reflection on the river. Bring me your light. The hell that was happening on that island 10 years ago comes in flashes, but mostly I am thinking about what has changed. Every damn thing in my life that has changed has been for the better, whether it felt that way at first or not. Growth has been steady, even facilitated, and I am acutely aware of everything.
Amidst it all, four tourists from Texas — three clad in Dallas Cowboys jerseys — pose for pictures on the pier. They’re loud and it’s marked because no one else is speaking. Strikes me as theatre. They are carrying loaded Carlo’s Bakery bags. Posing with the Empire State Building in the background, then with Lower Manhattan. I keep wondering if they get it and don’t care or just don’t get it. And then I think about the “move on” theme of Charles Evered’s play, Ten, and I take them more in stride.
We are all doing what we feel. It’s that simple.
Somewhere in the background I hear “Taps.” I wonder if the sound is from across the river where two presidents of the United States are or if it is from somewhere in Hoboken.
No matter. It’s 10 years later. We’ve survived to talk about it, build on it and we’ve forged on in spite of it.
I walk to the grocery store and they have five boxes of Barilla whole wheat pasta for $5 and it makes me happy. The cashier gives me a little American flag on my way out.