Odilia Rivera Santos
I rode my bike on lanes with the universal bike lane drawing of a bike on which a rider of indeterminate sex sits, innocently waiting to be hit by a cab. I went against my own grain by not working hard and instead allowed experience to filter through me, as rain began to fall. I never knew riding a bike would turn my NYC world into a tiny village, but it has. A man ran out of his barber shop to tell me the bike was cool and how it was such a treat to see me riding a bike. Me? Who is me?
Today was a day to begin slow and to begin again and to experiment. I rode my bike relieved to be above ground and not in the train station. As the 911 anniversary approaches, I remember our collective grief on that day, which seems to have happened ten days ago when memories are conjured up and allowed to stay too long. I ran out to help but couldn't get downtown because train stations were being evacuated, buses were packed and traveling at five miles per hour. It took days to get downtown and when I arrived, it was truly awe-inspiring to see the huge amount of volunteers from all over the world who had dropped everything to come here. I am a Puerto Rican born in Puerto Rico and love my country very much - P.R. is homehome. New York City is home because if we had not come to NYC, I never would have become a writer, and for me, everything begins and ends with this attempt at communication with you, my reader.
My emotional attachment to NYC is deeply rooted to its having allowed me the opportunity to become an appreciator of the arts and to be one who produces art, something this daughter of a sugarcane worker never would have done at homehome.
I was unable to help after 911 because they had too many volunteers - this was disappointing and also showed how incredible people can be under difficult circumstances.
I did help survivors of 911 when I taught a literature class and some of my students were employees at businesses lost during the attack. They were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and very nervous about any kind of failure or loss.
It was a very emotionally-charged group and quite unified in a lot of ways even as they argued about our small village's usual topics. Gender, class, race, inequities and the suffering olympics.
I am writing from a straw hut made of brick and mortar where the NYC natives gather to eat sushi, discuss the economy and wait for the carnival to come to town.