Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From Ashes

Since last Sunday, I've been feeling the tremendous push and pull, unbearable weight and lightness of the past. As the anniversary of 9/11 approached, I knew that I would have to reflect on that day, but I resisted it. To think about all the lives lost, all the children grown up, all the families affected, a scarred New York...and the passage of time, for better or was all too much.

But my sister and her boyfriend were covering the 9/11 stories and events for Yahoo, and they told me about all the personal accounts, photos, documentaries, and memories that were being featured, all the lives--of those living and gone--that they were shining a light on, and I knew it would be necessary for me, for us, to honor those who lost their lives and to reflect upon how the world is a changed place.

Like many others, when I think of that day I feel vulnerable and helpless. Unlike those who lost a loved one, I was a mere witness. That day ten years ago I walked away unharmed save for the image of the towers on fire, in smokes, crumbling, and then completely, utterly, hopelessly gone. The sense of disbelief and shock and horror has over the years been replaced by something else--something more vague and nebulous and foggy. Could that really have happened? Is this how we heal, by forgetting?

As I made my way through the horrific images and heart-wrenching stories, it all came flooding back. When memory fails or words are lacking, the visual, like this photo of a woman in shock, seeking shelter in a building, can scream the truth. It reminds me of our fragility and our beauty, of destruction and resurrection. And eventually my mind wanders back to clothes--clothes as an expression of ourselves and our aspirations, as a representation of our frail armour against the world, and clothes as a means of reinvention. From that day ten years ago, we have all shed our clothes and dressed countless times. We have put away the past and carried on. Even in the wake of tragedy, let's never forget who we are and what we are. And let's continue to get dressed, and to not take each day for granted.

I'm back again. I reread my post and it just felt so sad and depressing to share this entry during Fashion Week. To see how New York has risen from the ashes of 9/11 with brilliance, check out Tommy Ton's inspiring street fashion photos here. Color! Beauty! Skin! Life!

(Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)