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Saturday, April 25th, 2009 11:33 pm
This is something I wrote in September, 2004, reflecting on 9/11.
Summer in the north bay, as in the south bay, lasts well into September. Richly golden and warm days, eventually mellowing out into autumn by Halloween. The skies are endlessly blue…the trees that frame it, still lush and verdant. You would think that summer is eternal, and that the long drawn out afternoons are merely one moment, frozen forever, that you could hide away in for the rest of time. The only sign of fall are the slight breezes that return, sweeping away the stale air of august. They tell tantalizing of change and new adventures…new classes, new chances, a new year, full of new adventures.

September 11th should have shattered those idle days. The remnants of the long peaceful summer should have been gone. There should have been that crispness in the air that signifies the long decent into winter. The breezes should have been gusts, not gentle things promising adventure, but instead threatening storms. It didn’t, of course. We grieved, yes. We sought relief from the sorrow, yes. We felt history swirling around us, and were afraid of failure. But while our mental landscape was well in the grip of the cold end of November, we could not live that way. As a consequence, you had the forms of winter mourning applied to the images of summer living.

For me, september 11th is melded into the memories of those long afternoons. Frozen in my memory, as if the moment were still happening, and I could return to it any time,  there is an eleven year old boy standing outside his house with a lemonade stand.  Blue skies, heavily shaded trees, golden light falling in shifting patterns upon the ground. I am idly driving home the back way, detouring through some of the other neighborhoods in order to avoid traffic. The windows are open, but it doesn’t matter. The day is so warm that- especially in the car- it is like being wrapped up in a cocoon of warmth. It presses on you from all sides, and its touch is practically tangible. He’s outside his house, which happens to be next to a stop sign. There’s no sidewalk. He’s got a flag up, and a sign saying he’s raising money for the red cross (ah, the tragedy of it, that the red cross was not swamped. Everyone died).  It’s not planned; it’s instinct. I stop the car and get out. He’s somber and I am somber. There’s a dreamy quality to it. Everything is so sunny, so mellow. But here we are, two somber kids, looking at each other in acknowledgment of our shared grief and shock. I didn’t know him. But on that day, you feel as if everyone in the country is tuned into the same mental telepathy. We’re both the shell-shocked survivors of something that we did not experience.
You’re selling lemonade, I say.
Yeah, he says. 25 cents a cup.
Oh, it’s all so normal. There’s no real sign that this isn’t just a summer day. Yet I hate lemonade, and I buy it without hesitation, as if I were thirsty and a cold glass of it was all I could ever want. I give the boy a dollar, and down the lemonade like it were whisky and I were a hardened drunk. It’s tart and acidic flash in my mouth, and a cool sensation in my throat. I hardly taste it… it seemed important to not only buy it, but also to drink it. I smash up the cup and return it to the boy, who puts it in his trash bucket. It feels like a toast. I’m not sure to what. It feels like a ritual. I’m not sure of its purpose.
Thanks, I say to the boy.
I get back into my car, which is still idling with the door open at the stop sign. I continue drive home, swaddled in the hot day. The day that never ends; all blue skies and brash sunshine. 
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