Friday, September 12, 2003

The day began with the end of the worknight. As I was counting up the $ and getting ready to clock out, the radio from the kitchen that was previously playing bad Mexican hard rock switched to the national anthem. Kinda hard to ignore as the computer terminal clock clicks over to 09/11/03. Spent a short while at home after that, but decided to go for a bike ride, and grabbed my walkman which I haven't used in a long long time (ear problems, not good for me to use walkmans, but I wanted Vespertine for the ride). Heading across town, I was surprised to see the "Towers of Light", but I followed them West, then once I got to the Hudson River, I started south. I took a few quiet stops, trying to capture with my camera the amazing look of the bright round moon high in the sky with the bluish artificial beams pointing straight up (pics didn't come out so good, but whatthehell). I actually laid down on the dark cold asphalt of the bikepath for a while, listening to Bjork cooing and whispering in my ear, enjoying the night air, staring into the great big sky. The Towers of Light faded, then were completely shut off. Once I made it all the way downtown, past the numerous TV satellite vans parked in anticipation of whatever events were planned for the morning, I stopped again and just stared across the West Side Highway into the huge brightly lit hole. I was captivated by the sheer size of it, and the buildings surrounding the area of different types and styles of architecture. I was struggling with the idea that we will be building on this site, trying to make (at least in part) a new big object that will somehow show the absense of the old big one. I accept, and actually agree that we should, but was grateful for the chance to again just stare out blankly at this huge awful hole. I've only been to the site late at night, when few people are around. Not that it's ever totally unpopulated. A group of about 20 cops walk by, there's a good amount of car traffic on the road, and of course construction workers are in and around the place. And the occasional fellow biker (I suppose bicyclist is more acuarate, but somehow "biker" sounds butcher) or skateboarder rides along. It's interesting to be here with Bjork providing soothing sounds while staring at this huge rectangular shape. Even after I leave the site, I can't quite go home, and spend another hour just riding around lower Manhattan, and listen to Vespertine 3 times in total.

Sleep somehow comes easy, and I sleep late with cool air floating thrugh the windows by the bed. Not much happened druing the day, as I had hoped - just quiet reflection, coffee, neighborhood bike riding. When I went to the post office, I got one of the clerks who's been there for years. After we do the normal stuff ("media mail, please." and a few pleasantries) I say to her: "I hope this doesn't sound weird, but, you know, two years ago..." I begin, as her smile turns flat, and her eyes look downward for an awkward moment "...when I'd come in here almost every day, and you and the other guys would always say HI, and have big smiles for me, it really made a difference, it really helped." Her smile returned bigger, with a slight bit of blushing, as she said "Well, that's so nice to hear, thank you, and we'll keep on smiling!"

Two years ago, I promised myself to try to do more little dumb things like that, take a few extra seconds, and just act on those urges to acknowledge the people around me, whoever they are. I know, kinda corny, but I can't get my brain around the bigstuff, wars and killing and revenge and meanness. Most of the rest of the day was pleasant nothingness, and by the evening I found myself over on the West Side again, this time at the Piers (er, Hudson River Park) enjoying a beautiful sunset. There were all kinds of people there - I watched some crazy little kids running around on the astroturf of one of the newly refurbished piers, saw several same-sex pairs embracing or smooching nearby, black teens acting silly, touristy-looking white families eating a snack. That's what I wanted; the different kind of folks that make this city so cool, just hanging and enjoying a beautiful day together - I don't know anything about any of them, how much money they make, who they voted for, they just all looked very cool, and made me smile.