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Sunday, January 30

I Remember

Memory is a funny thing.

Something you get used to as a part of your fabric
The day-to-day reality you live in, can disappear
And within a few short years…may barely register in your being..

Growing up, I always had the sense that as an American, I had nothing to fear except Russia. We were a world power, but not THE world power.

Someone far away lurked this strange nation filled with wide-faced people in big fur hats that matched us in power and weapons and were ready to use them at any moment.

Then the Communist super-power of the Soviet Union fell and like magic America became THE SUPER POWER of the world. I no longer worried about being “Nuked” from the fur hat people. I began to see them as human beings. I even began to see them as allies.

I remember a time in the world when liberals loved Israel, when they embraced the tiny little nation surrounded by enemies. Now many liberals denounce Israel at every turn.
Every time Israel protects itself against terror, they scream for the protection of the terrorists. I worry, I worry, I worry what will happen to the tiny country if America were ever to turn her back on them. I, it should be noted, am a liberal.

I remember the World Trade Center. The every day sight I saw walking downtown.
The everyday peak of the skyline I smiled at from my roof.
I never liked the buildings. I thought they were ugly and new, devoid of the charm and the wonder of “Old New York.” The “Empire State Building” was much more my cup of tea, but the towers anchored the skyline. The two boys holding down Wall Street, they were an essential part of New York. Now they’re gone. I still look for them when I go on the roof, but now it’s hard to remember exactly where they were. I stopped holding my breath every time I go below Canal Street. I’m having trouble remembering the smell that used to sit on my clothing. In a few short years, I wonder how many of us will think about them at all.

My friend M, wears a necktie on which is the emblem of a small round piece of plastic that we used to fit into “45”s when we wanted to play them on our record player. Only vintage enthusiasts and people over the age of 35 remember this piece of plastic. I remember when cassette tapes were a big deal. It was strange to go into the record store and buy a cassette. A lot of my friends still had “8 track” players. I used to go into the back of “Jacks” music store in Red Bank New Jersey and look through the imports from England. They came in brown paper sleeves, the new intruders, punk rock from the U.K.
It was so exiting to buy the contraband music deemed vulgar. It made my heart race. I haven’t held an album in my hands in years. I have long forgotten about all the obstacles that came with playing them, the scratches, the having to go back and turn them over every half hour, while in the middle of a party, how easy they were to break.

I remember feeling safe. I took it for granted. It started sometime after the fall of the Soviet Union and ended on “911.” It was that feeling of invincibility that children have. It’s a feeling every child has a right to have. That feeling ends the first time that child realizes their mortality. I lived embraced in that feeling. No it was not safe in the day-to-day way. I’d lived in New York during the early 80’s in the worst of neighborhoods. I was never going to be able to walk across a park at night without listening for footsteps. It was a large safety, a safety of country. It never actually occurred to me that someone could reach in and blow up parts of my world. We all lost our virginity that day. It’s the reason George Bush is our president now. So many people feel un-safe. So many people think he will make them safe again. I, of course, believe very much the opposite. Sometimes it feels as though I am the only one who can see what a monster he is. It’s a lonely feeling.

I remember a time when you could talk about politics and it would not result in such angry, ugly backlash. These days, speaking out against the president might wind up having you called an “Anti-American.” I have even been told that I will rot in hell by right-wingers who hate me because they feel being anti-Bush is being anti-God. I have also been horribly denounced by friends and peers for being pro-Israel. I’ve almost forgotten what it was like to be able to talk about a wide range or world events without fear of fury. Now people watch what they say. No one wants to ruin a party with a screaming match about Iraq.

I remember what it was like to write, without feeling that what I wrote had to mean something, in some little way it had to make the world a better place, even if it was just the tiniest smidgen. I don’t know when this started. I guess it was “911.” But now I write and hope and wonder if I might just fix things in the universe, just a little, make some miniscule difference amidst all of this. I don’t write as often since this happened. I thank all the higher powers for this blog, or I might not write at all.

I remember
I remember
I remember

What do you remember?

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