WEEK IN MANHATTAN... continued
Someone came up to them and yelled, "What do you think this is, a rock concert? Get this out of here!" The vendors chatted amongst themselves for a few minutes, packed up their stand, and left.
Walking to our subway station, we passed Saint Vincent's Hospital, one of the main medical centers for the injured. One of the walls held more than a hundred notices with photos of people missing since the crash, folks who were undoubtedly dead by now. The names included Wong, Vasquez, Raja, Chevalier, Miszkowicz, Siskopoulous, Zangrilli and O'Keefe--a reminder that the work of New York is done by immigrants and descendants of immigrants from around the world.
I took some photos of the site, and Amy and I left. I took one other photo that evening, of a Buddha in the window of a shop selling East Asian artifacts. The Buddha was holding an American flag.
Walking around my neighborhood, everything on the surface looked normal, aside from the American flags on cars, buildings, storefronts, fruit-peddler carts, the reopened Starbucks, our local Afghani restaurant, and a baby carriage. Television had resumed its normal daytime lava flow of crap. During a commercial break, channel 2 broadcast a montage of New York firemen as a voice intoned, "We honor our heroes." A second later, the word "injured" flashed on a black screen, and a voice intoned, "Have you been in a car accident lately? Call the law offices of..."
Nobody I know feels normal inside, and nobody is predicting when they will.
Monday night was Amy's and my sixth wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a quiet dinner at the Afghani restaurant. I asked the owner if business had declined. Not much, he said, and it was balanced by all the customers who had stopped by to make sure he was okay.
The owner, who's from Pakistan and not Afghanistan, is the first person to whom I've spoken who lost friends last Tuesday. Three of his Pakistani friends had worked in restaurants in the basement mall of the World Trade Center.
Until this past week I never felt completely like a resident of this town. I paid taxes and voted, but it was always the place in which I was "currently living" and never rooted. Now it's my home.
In the elevator today, a neighbor asked, "It's never going to return to normal, is it?"
"I think we'll have to redefine normal," I replied.
"Welcome to the new normal," she said.
"Welcome to the new normal," I replied.
Rich Orloff is a self-styled humorist and playwright and a regular contributor to OAM. His website is www.richorloff.com.
Naeem Mohaiemen is a Bangladeshi web activist. He runs the South Asian activist website www.shobak.org and is co-founder of AOL-Time Warner's Volume.com, a website for African-American teenagers.