Good morning, Portland! I just retrieved a memory I wanted to recall (Preppies don't say "share" except when there is something concrete involved, like a sandwich, a lottery ticket, or a condo in a warm place that is preceded by the word "time").
After September 11th, it was terrifying to figure out what to do first when New York was attacked. Once the smoke cleared, we were still grieving, frightened, changed. Two days after that dreadful Tuesday, we had a rainstorm with thunder and lightning. I'm sure I was not the only one who first mistook thunder for the sound of bombing.
As we New Yorkers tentatively remade our way through our shaken and humbled city, I attended a dinner honoring scientific advances made by the Weizmann Institute of Science, a remarkable post-graduate facility in Israel, where work is done in all the sciences, medicine, and environment — all of it shared with the rest of the (non-Jewish) world.
Ordinarily, this annual dinner is black-tie and festive, but of course, not in 2001. It was October, and no one was ready for festive. As we were leaving the Waldorf Astoria, a great art deco landmark hotel in midtown Manhattan, a long stream of guests were arriving from their night at the theater. And all of them were from Oregon.
They wore stickers on their clothing proclaiming their solidarity with New Yorkers. They came here to help us reboot ourselves. They came out of the goodness of their hearts. They were you, and I will never forget it. My subdued evening of scientists and hearing of new advances emerging from their laboratories ended in a long and teary receiving line with you Oregonians, hugging us, and patting us on the shoulders, telling us everything would be alright.
It helped. I kept that feeling with me when I needed to buck up.
Over time, others followed your lead, and New York started to relax and return to its cosmopolitan ways. People went out to dinner again. People regained their smiles. We even — urged on by Mayor Guiliani — returned to the stores, to begin shopping. Meanwhile, the mood amongst New Yorkers was more patient, tolerant, and loving. The mother who had tried to steal my babysitter hugged me; even more surprising, I hugged her back. As friends would say goodbye to one another over the phone, the new "talk to you soon," or "see you later" became "love you." There was a wave of appreciation as high as the Cascades. And then it was November.
And at Bergdorf Goodman, Manhattan's most upscale and chic department store, the fall shoe sale started on schedule. Over the discounted Manolo Blahniks and Pradas and Tods, something happened. Women began to fight and sneak and swipe shoe boxes from one another, resulting in an alleged scuffle. New York was back in business. The business wasn't preppy in the slightest, but it was proof that, in the face of a bargain, human beings revert to their natural selves.
Happy Thursday. Happy New Year.