9.14.01 8:43 am

I was in the lockdown zone, so for the last three days there was no traffic on sixth avenue except emergency vehicles, and way fewer of them than we want, because as you know, they're hardly finding any victims to rescue. I never thought I would welcome, beg for, the sound of sirens as a sound of life and hope.

They have been painfully beautiful days, so residents would go out and sort of wander the streets (at a certain point, sitting inside watching the news became just impossible to continue to do).

The combination of no traffic and beautiful days meant that we residents couldn't help but enjoy the beauty of our neighborhood, the pleasures that make us want to live here in the first place. Grocery stores and restaurants are open, and people sit in the cafes and walk together quietly in the streets.

But on the corner of 6th Avenue and 11th Street, pasted to the side of Ray's Pizza (a block from St. Vincent's hospital), are hundreds of missing person posters, with pictures and descriptions of people lost in the bombing.

The New School (on 11th St btwn 5th and 6th) was a missing person's information center until they set up the official center at the Armory on Lex, and there is a constant stream of relatives going in to try to find out anything about their loved ones.

The station house on 10th Street is empty, and a hand-lettered sign lists the six men of the fire company who are lost in the rescue effort. There is always a small group of people gathered there placing candles and flowers in their memory, and in support of the others who are still working.

I gather that even uptown, things are returning to some semblance of normalcy, but down here no one has been able to think of anything else, to do any work, to do anything but sort of wander around in shock.

Washington Square Park is a gathering place, where people hang out quietly, and there are sort of impromptu vigils there every night. Remembrances have been hung on the fence surrounding the arch. I wonder what George Washington would think of all this: of what our country had become before Tuesday, and what it is now.

Today they have re-opened the streets as far down as Canal, so I may be able to go to the studio and see how things are there. Up to now, I only left my own neighborhood to go up to register to volunteer at the Red Cross on 67th Street. I rollerbladed up there on the first day, and there were hundreds of people doing the same thing.

But since then, I've found myself unable to leave about a five-block radius of my apartment. I never realized how strongly one really feels that sense of home, of how an absolutely physical relationship to place has so much emotional power.

I realize that this is a global disaster, but for us here it is a completely local disaster, a neighborhood experience. It's really unbearable, the combination of normalcy, of ordinary life, with this terrible crisis.

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