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10 years

September 9, 2011

Ten years ago, I moved back to Philly from New York, began my senior year in college, started getting over a break-up, and soon thereafter, wrote a play inspired by 9-11.

If I’m being honest, the play was really inspired by my break-up. Of course, anyone who knew me and saw the play, they said “oh yeah, that play was about his break-up”. But  9-11 happened two weeks before we went into tech, and I hadn’t written the second half yet, so it became about 9-11. This was not a good play. It was barely even a play, it was more a theatrical exercise. The characters didn’t even have names, I just called them ‘A’ and ‘Z’. But it had spunk I guess.

The funny thing is that I think “dealing with 9-11” is kind of bogus, for most Americans. If you knew someone who was hurt or killed, or lived in New York, or grew up in New York,  of course you would be impacted. But the way everyone in the country got psyched out by it– I didn’t get it. When I lived overseas, I got used to the idea that geopolitical shit is always going down, and your city or country just might next on the list. I guess most Americans had never felt that way. Of course, from a theatrical perspective, the image of the two towers was incredibly powerful — enough so to ring a completely new bell in America’s group-mind.

In terms of response, I’m of the Fareed Zakaria school: strategically, we did the exact opposite of what we should have done. Now, I’m not one to say, “we deserved it”. Mostly because that’s just the way it goes when you’re always getting into the world’s business. But I do think that the gov’t didn’t stop to think: “wait, what’s the best move here?” like they were playing a game of chess, which of course they were. Instead, they over-reacted and the decade has been a total fuck-up.

I have to confess that on the tenth anniversary, the thing that makes me most sad is that I feel like time hasn’t even really moved since that moment. Like the towers were some giant hands of time, and they were pushing us forward and -boom- they came down. The clock stopped. I keep getting older, I’m still writing. But nothing is getting BETTER. Nothing is getting DEEPER. It’s all grandmas taking off their shoes at the airport and weekend warriors building a wall along the Mexican border, and bullshit like that. America is so godammed Scared To Lose. Like instead of being the guy at school who gets hit in the back of the head and says, “Whatever”, we’re the guy who flips out and makes a scene and everybody thinks is annoying.

Of course, it’ s hard to separate the feelings about my personal life from feelings about ‘the world’. I’m sure if I had started Facebook instead of going to grad school, I would feel differently about ‘the world’ right now. But writing that play feels like the last real thing I did. The rest is all part of this artificial reality that sprang up that day. I guess what I’m saying is that in the next ten years I need to feel like the world is REAL again- that shit happens, not everything has to be perfect, that my kids won’t need to be in a million activities to feel like they’re doing enough to keep up with China, that I should just enjoy the little things. But of course, that’s a personal journey, not a political one.

“We’re on the other side of something”, I wrote in the playbill. I still miss the old side.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Evie permalink
    September 11, 2011 8:52 pm

    Luke – I was definitely one of those Americans that thought shit like that happened either 1) in the past or 2) in other countries. That was the day I realized that we are still a part of history.

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