The last time I was here it was seventy degrees, we had not yet lost the World Series, let alone the election. I was anxious, but not yet defeated. Being here is my way of saying you know what? I am still not defeated.
During Fall, fifteen years ago, I had two friends who were producing plays in New York City. One was bringing a production from here to there, a very personal work, to be presented at a theater festival. The other a friend from here, now living there, producing a new political satire.
At that time my wife and I were newly married, still childless, though only by default. It was 2001. I had only just begun my work in theater education with Great Lakes. We had expected a child, and we lost him. Taking a weekend in early October, booking a flight to see theater in NYC on my own, this would be an exciting diversion.
After September 11, my friend here decided it would be inappropriate to present something so personal, something that they felt was insignificant against the backdrop of recent events. I disagreed, but understood. I am not sure how I would have felt had it been my play, my decision.
My other friend's production, scheduled to premiere September 13, its opening was postponed for only one week. I still had my ticket for early October. The President told us to buy things, the Mayor of New York implored us to visit. So it was that on a Friday evening in October I was on our final descent into LaGuardia, flying over the western shore Manhattan at dusk, looking down upon what was already called Ground Zero, entirely lit as salvage crews worked 24/7.
Everyone was in the plane peering out that side of the plane. There were hushed murmurs. It was breathtaking.
One day I should share my reflections on the play I saw, which I enjoyed a great deal, though it must be said it was a very unusual circumstance in which to see a musical especially one which was so funny and dark and satiric. The music was so happy.
The night before the performance I met a number of my friends, including the producer, and asked if it were appropriate to go downtown, to look. It didn't feel right, somehow. I did not wish to gawk.
My friends urged me to, they said I must go downtown. I should bear witness. That it was important.
In the shadow of terrible events, it can be challenging to find that place in your heart to continue with things that are dwarfed in comparison. Creation can be stimulated by personal tragedy, but it can often be stifled.
My daughter is much better at this than I am. When she is sad, she paints and her work is so beautiful.
But recent events, while they have not busted open in me a drive to create something new, they have provided a focus and a desire to bear down and complete what I have already started, and I am here to continue that work.
Because, as the man says, "I still have so much work to do."
Writing In Our Windows continues through the month of November at Appletree Books, you can participate by signing up here.
Many thanks to the folks at Appletree for setting this up. See you on Tuesday, November 22.