Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You're never alone, not here you're not.

There is a creepy voiceover in this video by Sting at the 2:32 point. "They're all here. You're not alone. You're never alone, not here you're not."

Aside from being randomly awesome, this reminds me of Oskar and Thomas. Both are isolated, separated from home in a very emotional and sometimes almost mentally ill way, however home doesn't leave them...Even when they feel farthest from it, they're never alone, not in the City they're not.

In the book, Thomas is grieving his whole life. Nothing went as he might have wished and all of it damaged him so much that he doesn't even have words to express himself anymore. He's trapped in silence, bearing the weight of his lifetime, and divided by his inability to explain why he is hurting.

Oskar is a little boy who everyone is trying to fix, but no one can reach. He's searching for something, the key really an excuse for a far more intangible search. He's lost his father, the one person who he thought understood him, and is riddled with guilt because he feels he mishandled his last moments with him. So he's not so much looking for something to unlock as searching for why. Why is his father gone? Why was it so sudden? Why can't he make sense of it? Why can't science, which he relies on, give him any solace in this his darkest moment--instead leaving him with knowledge his shoulders aren't yet broad enough to bear (like knowing he's breathing in his father's cells every moment he continues to live in the city where he died so violently and senselessly.)

I think we all asked questions like that when 911 happened. It didn't make sense, we couldn't guard against it, we couldn't rationalize why something so horrible happened and if we couldn't, how could we go on?

But they aren't alone, these characters. Because we're with them every step of the way and we're with them in their grief.

For a long time, years even, after 911...it seemed like everyone sort of paused. The economy stalled, people learned to live in fear, everything seemed a temporary solution. Forever wasn't promised anymore, so why worry that far ahead?

We danced our merry dances, walked our jaunty walks, but like Oskar, we did it all with heavy boots and we peered over our shoulders waiting for the next

Horrible Thing.

Because we're not alone. There were lots of things waiting like vengeful gods for us to peek over our shoulders for almost biblical punishment.

                                                               Horrible Things

happened and we weren't even altogether that horrified by them. After all, once you've watched people falling out of a building to their death, no heavier than office papers blowing in the warm September sunshine...

                                         only making a wet thud when they found the concrete below...
                  how could we work up the proper panic for the other Horrible Things?

Days stretched into weeks of them digging through still burning rubble and searching for children, firefighters, police officers--the best of what we believe we can be in this human experience, really, since they are the heroes and the innocent--and finding nothing left alive in the ruin of the city covered in ash.

Perhaps we've begun to find joy again. My children, for instance, don't understand why every year I weep on my birthday or why just the mention of that day sends my knuckles white and my body tight with tension...they have been raised by a mother who taught them to search for the little joys and revel in them because I do understand that we're never alone--that life doesn't happen in a void, but is a fluid thing and even in our darkest moments, someone is there with us. Perhaps helping them find those joys was a reflex. Like me trying to show them happiness because I do understand every moment is a possible last moment--the Horrible Thing is always following, after all, and we don't know when it will catch up--and I want them to suck out all the joy before they end up with that bitter rind.

Or maybe home was there on that horrible day and there is no actual Horrible thing...

Perhaps, like Oskar and Thomas, all of it IS home and we just can't see it yet.


  1. Thank you.

    Strangely hard to write. Then again, the saying goes if there's no tears in the writer...


  2. Sting is one of the hottest artist in the business. I was at his last concert in Cleveland about ten years ago. It was a rainy day in April. I remember it well because he began his show with the line "how about this lovely English weather we are having". The green "why" through me off a little, but it all makes sense.

  3. This is nicely written and I can see the similarities between Oskar and Thomas. 911 is a never ending piece of history that we all will remember. Sting also adds very nicely to this blog.