Jan 11, 2015

A tulip remembrance

- Today I have realized how blessed these 26 years have been, for I have never felt this kind of latent and expanding fear before.
It’s my young friend Corina in Paris, posting her anxiety on Facebook.

I was at the end of it. My friend Jeff at the start. Only, we didn’t know about each other both joining, until we met up at our friends Terry and Doug later for dinner. And in the evening all of us watching a documentary short series in a typical Seattle basement fringe theatre. Being a part of something bigger. The collective grieving.
I am recalling this, following the horrifying and tragic situation in Paris this week. I was in Sweden when 9/11 changed the world forever. I know exactly where and when I was hit by the news, as I remember where I was brought the message of the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, Secretary of State Anna Lind, and of course JFK.
September 2002 I was in Seattle for the opening of my photo show Away is Home, Home is Away at the Nordic Heritage Museum. And September 11 was the one year remembrance of the Twin Towers collapsing before the eyes of the world.
It was a beautiful day. There was going to be a silent march starting at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle, ending at Seattle Center. When 9/11 happened, I felt so far away. Far away from my American city and far away from my American friends. So, I was grateful to be in Seattle on the one year day. I was given the chance to be a part of the tragic event, in remembrance.
I drove down to Seattle Center and was stunned by the sight. The big and beautiful International Fountain was surrounded, almost covered in flowers. All the people walking together from Westlake Center arrived in silence. Governor Gary Locke gave a speech. And there were bag pipes. It was all very dignified. And although the bag pipes, quiet.
It was intense, in a good way. I learned that a year ago, this was where people came together, an impromptu act. Seattle Center, which was built for the Worlds Fair in 1962, is the natural place for all kind of gatherings, and apparently also in distress. When the two planes crashed in to the heart of the U.S, the International Fountain with it’s soothing shape and form pulled Seattleites to the sound of the water, finding comfort in each other. And there were flowers. Drifts of flowers around the fountain. Flowers that were later transported away to become compost where tulips were planted. 
The experience was very emotional to me. I was overwhelmed and grateful. But a bit sad that I was alone there, in the midst of everyone. Afterwards I drove over to Terry and Doug’s. Jeff parked as I pulled over. And told med he had been at the start of the march at Westlake Center.  It turned out I hadn’t been alone after all. It felt good.
I have heard the New Yorkers felt alone in the world when 9/11 happened, like not even their fellow countrymen were there for them. I know Americans suddenly felt America was an island nobody cared for. That’s how lonely you can feel when cold fear eats your bone. When you feel no one have any sense of what you are going through.
More than 13 years have passed since 9/11. More people than we could ever imagine at that time, have lost their lives, loved ones, trust and faith to the world as a good and safe place to live, in terror actions throughout this planet of ours. But I’d like to think contemporary possibilities for communication and interaction brings us a little bit closer to each other. When cold fear eats your bones and no one is holding you, you are alone, you are. But a hug over the internet is better than no hug. A little pink heart can make yours pound a bit longer. And what can a tulip do?
The tulips planted in the compost out of the 9/11 flowers at the International Fountain in Seattle, had bulbs. And those bulbs were given to us who were there in quiet remembrance on the one year day. A beautiful sunny September day. I brought mine to Sweden and planted in my flowerbed. No, they didn’t survive the Umeå winter. But I am sure a lot of those bulbs handed out that day, did.

- Today I have realized how blessed these 26 years have been, for I have never felt this kind of latent and expanding fear before.
It’s my young friend Corina in Paris, posting her anxiety on Facebook. I responded to her: Corina, I am so sorry for the world and for you.
And Corina, I want to give you a tulip bulb. Imagine it, and plant it in your heart. And in every heart you meet. I know you will. And those bulbs will make it through any winter.

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