By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
The first time I saw you was Tuesday, the morning of the horror. You'd left your home, eight blocks north of the World Trade Center. You were sitting on the stoop of your good friend Pat's house on Sixth Avenue waiting to meet up with more friends, surrounded by giant water bottles and a confused crowd who'd heard there was a bomb scare near the apartment building that has Souen, the macrobiotic restaurant, downstairs. It's the next day, Wednesday, and we're talking again. You've made your way north to the Village apartment of your friend, photographer Lisa Silvestri. Describe your journey from Tribeca to the Village. I'm in bed, me and my dog Lucy, and I heard a noise and I said to Lucy, Oh, it's just a suicide bomber, a little joke. Two minutes later I heard my answering machineI never get up until noonthe Trade Center blew up. Everybody ran outside; we knew we had to get money and water. Well, the Korean deli near mewe boycotted it last spring because they exploited their workers. And what I hated about them, after Kennedy Jr.'s death, the deli owner was bringing in trucks of flowers and selling them right off the trucks. Anyway, so we have this fucking, fucking emergency, and me and my neighbors have to get big things of water, get them to people, get to Saint Vincents to help. And I have to go to him to buy saltines.
So the incomprehensibly giant nightmare tragedy didn't soften your feelings, like a friend of mine who is no longer mad at her mother? Hah! Let me tell you about Robert De Niro and the newsstand on Hudson where we gathered after the first plane hitthe only personal store left in the neighborhood, run by Mary and Fred, two old Commies. De Niro's bought a bunch of spaces around here, like that fuckin' TriBeCa Grill. For weeks we've been huddled in a ball because we hear De Niro wants the newsstand out by September 20, and we've been fighting it, writing letters, and it's our only place left in a neighborhood marched over by millionaires. So after the first plane crash yesterday, where are we? We're all gathered at the newsstandour last moments of neighborly love.
Then, you get north to Lisa's apartment in the Village, all your friends come over to Lisa's to eat and sleep. [Lisa] It was like Noah's Ark, dogs and cats and animals. [Reno] Our friend, Lisa P., she was so freaked out, she's our big-deal tough defense attorney. [Lisa] But cooking was her way of dealing with things. [Reno] She made us this genius meal.
Later, like Odysseus, you're going to try to make your way back, though you said you aren't sure what you want to go back to. [Reno] I don't know what to go back to. It's just a damn apartment. [Lisa] We're not throwing our arms around our buildings. [Reno] Our friendswe're trying to decide whether to get together and leave town, but I don't feel I can leave my home.
This whole thing brought up the question of what is the sense of home, is it being inside one's actual apartment? With every bomb scare, every new development, it removes a sense of a center, causes a panic about where to go. My TV friend lives in Astoria, and he said, "I don't know anyone in my neighborhood. I went to be with my friends in Manhattan." I went to stay with a friend, though we fought over the one telephone, over the e-mail, whether to stay inside and be claustrophobic and informed or go out and be part of life. I talked to a man from Australia who has a fancy loft facing the Trade Center and who saw, from his window, the hundreds of bodies jumping and falling. I asked him, "Will you be able to feel that this is still your home with the memories of what you saw from it?" He said, "No, that's not the issue so much. My wife is in California right now. She's an actress. We just want to be together, there or here. That's our sense of home."