I went on the hunt for a couple of pictures of a failed preservation project I'd worked on with a friend who passed away yesterday. My digital archive, (thanks mostly to iPhoto and DropBox) is far easier to sort through than my actual photographs, which are, to put it bluntly, a jumbled, bollocksed up mess. TOTAL CHAOS. And yet, occasionally chaos points us toward something important; important and safely tucked away.
In two oversized Spectra Photo envelopes (from when I took actual photographs and had them developed at the wonderful Spectra store on W 72nd street), wedged between packets filled with romantic photos of London cemeteries and my photographic "homage" to Henry Adams Mont St Michel and Chartres, there they were. Not the hoped for photographs of the old pool house at Soldier's Field where we'd waged our failed preservation campaign, but instead a treasure trove of a different nature--my photos of NYC in the early days after September 11, 2001.
I've said before that I am perpetually surprised at how quickly and powerfully that day and the maelstrom of memories attached to it flood back to the surface. The deep, dull ache is nearly as immediate and as raw as it was a decade ago. The tug in your gut never totally goes away. The emotions grasp at you, pulling in every direction from sadness, to anger, to uncertainty and back again. I cannot begin to fathom what it was or is like for those who lost loved ones and friends, the depth and breadth of their pain is on a completely different level. I was merely a bystander--a proud New Yorker--and I was and am forever altered.
I'm quite certain that back then I could not even begin to project out into the future ten years ahead, and I'll wager that I haven't looked at these photographs since I took them. Maybe now is the time to share them. So over the next few days I'm going to scan a few of the images and will post them here, perhaps with some other odds and ends of remembrance from those days.
I, along with many others, I think, took a kind of comfort in being out and gathering with people--mostly complete strangers--to share stories and do whatever we could do in our own small ways. There were some incongruosly beautiful autumn days right after September the 11th, at least as I recall (and admittedly, there are large blank gaps in many of those days that I can't remember, and I'm guessing that's for the best) and I spent a lot of time wandering around the city and taking photographs.