when they started bombing

Monday, October 08, 2001
after arriving home from my weekend upstate, i fell asleep with a sadness that comes when i leave behind the comforts of the sounds of the river and the hikes through the forest. feeling slightly ill, i awoke and checked my email and saw the headline i had been dreading

the one that took me back ten years

we had spent the afternoon celebrating my friend's birthday, we came home and we rang the doorbell and her mother opened the door with tears in eyes, she was crying and she was saying, and i can't remember now, if she said:

we invaded
bush invaded
they invaded

i woke up this morning wondering where i could go, move to, leave this place. disillusioned. jaded. thinking to myself, not again, not again, not again can i pass through my neighborhood parking lot to view the bright yellow bumper sticker on a classmate's car,
black letters... bold type... all caps


my neighborhood, a few days after i'd moved in, i stepped out in the warm new york day and was confronted with the cold glare of a truck parked outside of the building with its lyrical chant spread across its side in red lettering with the painted words,

we will not forget
we will not forgive

oh, no, not again

my heart dropped twenty feet into the ground... the night before, i was in a local bar and initiated a conversation with an older man. with suspicion, with hostility, he kept asking me

and how do you feel about what they did to the WTC
and i told him, its was wrong, it was wrong here and it's wrong anywhere.
No, but what do you think of what they did.

and i understood. with suspicion and hostility he was penetrating me with his gaze. his words searching for the secret pleasure he may have thought i was harboring, that was hidden behind this amicable faade. he was seeing in me, something of them unless i could claim otherwise with my affirmations, my i love america, united we stand pledge. nod along when he says, i can't wait until we start bom... no more waiting, mister, no more waiting...

my mother called. she asked if i would change the outgoing message on our home machine. the one i recorded years ago, my teenage voice politely beginning with asalumalaikum and following up with our arabic last name. i resisted but she sounded so sad, so scared. it's better to not bring attention to ourselves, she said.

i couldn't push it. i understood, for the times where i suddenly felt it would be easier to slip on the reds, the whites, the blues and assert an identity that i never considered mine, but if anyone who knows me knows, that i never believed in this idea of a nation, that i was myself and that was anything but it, yet everything within it, a little of all and less than none, a mixture of identities that make me, that exclude me, that destroy me, as long as they don't name me.

i spent the morning wondering what to do. another round of bombs are being loosely recorded in the press. yes again, yes again, yes again and again. i skipped class, left messages on people's answering machines with the simple words, i am sad today, pulled out my bed and hid under the covers until crying wasn't enough and hiding didn't change anything. i kept thinking of the luxury of death, of the desire for it, from my disillusionment, to get away from this world, wishing for a way to embark upon it. maybe it is cowardly. maybe it is natural. maybe even possible. but i get up and i sit here and i write. and i make plans to go to the anti-war rally, like the one's i went to ten years ago.



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