Thursday, May 25, 2006

Things will never be the same

I live in lower Manhattan. I've lived here for 10 years (except for a nearly two year hiatus when we moved to Italy and back again). I remember looking out of my bedroom window one sunny morning and watching the skyline change before my eyes. I knew things would never be the same.

Well, they're not.

So this morning when I heard a plane screaming overhead, i froze in my seat and tried not to vomit. When i heard the second and third planes going by, my heart started pounding and all i could think about was trying to tell my legs to move so i could run up the street to my daughter's preschool.

I waited for the boom, but it didn't come.

I started to settle, then i heard it again. One. Two. Three. I ran to the window but was too late. I turned on the news, nothing. The third time I heard it, I knew there was something going on. I ran to the roof and saw this:

These were definitely not comemrcial flights. I didn't know what to think. the rooves were filled with other people, just standing and staring. Most of them, like me, had cameras.

These planes were flying very very close overhead. I stood and watched them fly over my head (i live close to the east river) up, around the Empire State Building, and back again.

They went overhead about 10 times. Just circling. 6 of these little things and one big huge plane, that was flying incredibly low.

if you click on the photos you can see them full size, but here's an idea of how close they were - this is not an enlargement. I took these photos with a 55mm lens, so not a terribly massive zoom. I could read the writing on the bottom of the wings. I could read the numbers on the tails.

This big thing - what is that? - was so close that i could feel the wind shift. I could read "MARINES" on the wing, I could see the star and stripes on the other wing.

Here's a detail from the full-sized image. again, this isn't an enlargement. this is through a 55mm lens. I could see the propeller, clear as in this photo, but, you know, moving.

When I composed myself a bit I called 311, which is this city "info line" and guess what? It's Fleet Week. Some tradition where the navy takes over Manhattan. Apparently this was some sort of show that was supposed to make us all feel protected and happy.

I talked with the burly construction workers putting up the building next door. They were scared to death. I talked to the guy from the bodega on the corner. He was pretty freaked. I went to the grocery store, 3 hours after this display. It's all people could talk about.

I remember a time, nearly 5 years ago, when all New Yorkers became equal, if only for a short time. We talked to each other, asking "are you ok? is your family safe?" we looked each other in the eye, and shared our fears. We all knew we were all the same. We saw each other's humanity, and were not ashamed of our tears.

So if that's what this mornings display was about - reminding us that we are each other's family - then, job well done, US Navy. but here's a hint, you know, for next time. New Yorkers aren't fond of low flying planes.


Blogger Sharon Hurlbut said...

Wow! I hope you don't mind if I de-lurk and tell you what a wonderful post this is! Thanks for sharing it.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

i'm glad i didn't see that this morning! i would have freaked. shouldn't they make us a little more aware of these things.

2:55 PM  
Blogger schrodinger said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:02 PM  
Blogger schrodinger said...

Bloody Hell! I can't believe that story (obviously I do, but still). I think you wrote it really well. I moved to the city about a year before it changed, but was very (very, very) lucky to be back home visiting my family the day it did. Hope you are fully recovered from that horrible shock.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Miss Scarlett said...

OMG - what a terrible idea for a show.

I am so upset for all of you.
God. Imagine the poor kids who lived through that but lost parents? What the deuce were they thinking buzzing the city with low flying planes?

9-11 reminded more than just New Yorkers how connected we all are.
I know it does not compare but let me tell you no one here was hiding their tears that day and the days that followed and we were all asking each other if we were ok - and most of us were not -- again I know it doesn't compare. But so many people have been to NY or have family or friends in NY (I have been to NY and of all the cities I have visited it is the one I fell in love with right away. I could live there - and I am not necessarily a city girl) but regardless we are all citizens of this planet and No One, no one should ever experience that level of loss and terror.

Here I am on the West Coast of Canada shedding tears over the brief trauma of reliving that terror for you New Yorkers.

God - there should have been some loudspeaker announcements throughout the city or something.

Or how about someone, just one person standing up and saying "Gee I don't know. I think this is a BAD IDEA."

Sending you an e-hug.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Pamelamama said...

oh marnie! that must have been awful. they hold fleet week every year in manhattan, right? I wonder if they stopped it for a few years.

*hug* Chilling post, and you have my love.

5:42 PM  

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