dinsdag 25 september 2012

Jeff Ventura -- 26 september 2001

Last night I had drinks with a new friend of mine, a lieutenant in the United States army who lives in my dorm with his girlfriend. He is a great guy. Even though he knows I am gay, it is not even an issue with him.

He's a native New Yorker, so such things really don't phase him. He's what I like about New York: in possession of a thick-skinned attitude that isn't easily offended, and rarely shocked.

Of course the World Trade Center disaster pierced that skin.

Over beers at the bar that is located in our dorm, he told me that the foreign graduate students here -- our dormitory is 75% international visitors -- keep coming up to him and asking with concern, "How are things going?" He knows they mean the war preparations. He is polite to them, but inside he confessed that he is feeling a disconnection with foreigners these days. They don't seem as affected by this as we are.

To be in the company of Americans now seems more comforting.

A student from Germany stole a gym machine from me at the health club, before the terrorist attack. He just commandeered it for himself, and laughed at his bit of bullying. Ever since I have disliked him. I saw him two days ago in the gym again, the first time since the attack. I had a profound urge to scream at him, "Go back to your own country!" Intellectually that is not the sentiment I have, but emotionally I am tired of the people who come here feeling they are entitled.

I have a new sense of patriotism that I don't know what to do with, an emotional sort of nationalism that I cannot classify as good or bad. I am conflicted.

I told my army friend that my 17-year-old brother said he would enlist if his country needed him; there was a time when I would have called him crazy for even considering entering the military. Instead I told him if he did sign-up he would make me proud.

As I related this story to my friend, I became choked-up with emotion and turned away, embarrassed to be crying in front of such a strong military man. He reached over and put his hand on my shoulder in a gesture of comfort.

"I understand," he said. "I understand completely."

Jeff Ventura uit New York hield in 2001 gedurende enige weken na 9/11 samen met Arshad Mahmood Yusufzai uit Peschawar (Pakistan) een 'west-östliche Tagebuch' bij.

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