jet lagged, thats why i'm awake now, sleeping fitfully, flew into New York on Thursday and haven't stopped since. Phil is letting me stay at his place, he didn't come home last night, I think he ended up gaing back to his girlfriends place in the east village, so here I am awake, alone and unusually for me, with an internet connection.
Soon after September 11, 2001 I decided that I had to return to New York as soon as I could, just to see the city, taste what had happened, come to terms with my feelings. Since dropping out of the Phd program at Columbia University I have been living in Dublin, not doing anything with my life, taking care of the house I inherited from my Grandother last february, working three jobs, one full time two part time, all menial, just getting in money to pay bills buy food, getting caught up in life and letting time slide helplessley through my fingers.
The national airline of Irl\eland is in deep trouble and a result of this is last week the dropped transatlantic fares. I had just enough money to get a flight and so here I am, just for the weekend. My old office mate ben gets married tommorrow, I will be at the wedding, another reason to come.
I had forgotten what New York is like, how special a place it is and more than this, how it shaped me and how I am a completely different person here than when I am beck home in Ireland. I realised that we all have to potential to be dramatically different people, here I was greeted by so many old friend on my arrival, they think i am intelligent, smart, sexy, and when I am in New York I am. In my old office two days ago, one of the PhD students came to aks me to help her plot some data. I delved again into my account here, it took my 15 minuets to find what I was looking for, there was so much work there, so much I used to know, so many fields of astronomy that I had become fluent in, all of teh technology that went with that, all the ocmputer languages that I had taught myself, and I had been asleep to this for the past four months, in Dublin I am a shadow of the person that I am in New york, I have made there a situation formyself in which I have no tiome to think.
Being away from academia is important, i did drop out and there were good reasons for that, my work attitude was terrible, my confidence was low, but now I understand fully what value there is in time to think and how in an academic enviornemnt you are afforded almost more of such precious time than in any other profesison.
My return to new york has reawakend in my a sense of purpose, before coming here I was lost, didn't know what I was doing, and perhaps I still don't but know know again that i ought to be doing something.
Yesterday was a very deep day, it touched many places in my mind, I spent it in the company of some people who are very dear to me, whoom I had fallen perhaps a little in love with. I met Carol for a late breakfast, it was so good to see her again, then we went to ground zero. The smell of burning, the silence, these things will stay with me for a very long time.
We got out at Chambers Street station, some of the exits were sealed off, in one of them I could see ash still covering the steps.
The weather was perect, blue skies, still wind. Even now four weeks on there is a sense of reverence about the place, seen from ten blocks back there is only a hint of the enormity of what what must face those standing where the towers used to stand. All of the time in my few days here I look over my shoulder to be faced in this city by a palpable abscence in the skyline.
We didn't stay too long, got the 1-9 back uptown, on the way back we talked. It was the type of conversation that i've not had since I left this city, we taled about what drives one in life, ehat are good goals, how does one find bliss in the conundrum of our daily existence. The we parted, I shall see Carol again, bet it in three months or in three years, whenever it will be, it will be a pleasure.
Back to phils place, we had originaly planned on going climbing again, I was pretty wrecked, the climbing of the night before in addition to drinking until four in the morning had left me in a somehwt delicate state. And in additon to this I had managed to get in contact with nikki. Nikki had been a student of mine while I was teaching here at Columbia, but we had become very close, perhapse too close for nothing to have happened, it was an open admission between us, how we felt and how we had let what might have been slip away, and good too, for i was no longer going to be a pert of this city, and yet here I am again, and now I am meeting her again, and we talk as we always did about our lives. I am telling her about my life in Ireland, about the things I have been mulling over in the wu, and she looks at me aand says, 'my god Ian, I can't stand it you are so unhappy', and it's the first time it has been said out in the open like that and she is right, and it is time to put things to right with my life.
How can so many emotions and thoughs flood into you like that, where did i build the dam that kept all of these things back? what is it about this city that saw it's way to releasing and making me realise.
I spent a few precious hours with nikki, I need to see her again before I go, perhaps we need to kiss each other, just to put it to rest and if we don't then there will be nothing lost only something not quite gained, not yet, just to let it sit there and wait again for teh next chance in happier times. I have know her now for nearly three years and in that time she has matured so much, already she was old in her mind for her age, but there was still a girl inside of her who would become frustrated and downheartened by the world. I see these worries passing from her and it is an amazing thing to watch.
Deidre, an old old friend of mine from back home is now doing a PhD in Jersey. We met with Phil for dinner. I had not seen her for almost three years, I think. It was good to see her again, we talked about now, about the past.
After dinner driving downtown to meet phil's girlfriend,
Deidre was asking me about my grandmother, how she had died and how i dealt with it. A lot came out in a short time, I talked about how my mother had kidnapped me when I was four, I talked about how my fatehr had died when I was thirteen because he was born with a hole in his heart. Phil mentioned then that his 13 year old niece died last week. I think he is still coming to terms with this, she was born also with a hole in her heart and had a transplant operation last week. It was her best hope but she never awoke after the surgery. We were driving along Canal ,it was dark now and you could smell the burning again, I wept silently in the back of the car, we were all silent for a few moments and then we continued on our way.