Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Door to Hell (Just Around the Corner from A Stairway to Heaven)

There is a place in Uzbekistan called "The Door to Hell." I may be feeling a wee bit dark lately but I swear I did not make this up. So if you are searching for just such a doorway, look no further than the small town of Darvaz. You need not know the Devil to enter.
The images are stunning and the story is this: 35 years ago geologists were drilling for gas when suddenly the earth opened up to reveal a huge underground cavern. The equipment and camps fell deep inside, but no one dared go in because the cave swam with poisonous gas. So rather than let the gas escape they set fire to it. And now, 35 years later, the earth is still burning.
It took me until late morning to realize that today is September 11th. Never forget, people say, but life goes on and today is Thursday. Tonight I have dinner plans with my husband's sailing team. I drove to work thinking about Isis from America's Next Top Model. I ate a croissant. And yet seven years ago the world stood still and we all thought it would never be the same.
I mean no disrespect to those that died as a result of the terrorist attacks. I have only the highest regard for those that worked to save lives. If I really think about it I can remember that deep chasm of hopelessness I felt in those days right after, the creaking ache in my chest when I saw an American flag, when I smelled smoke. How one night driving home I pulled over just before I got on the Golden Gate Bridge because I did not like the looks of the truck in front of me. The world is not the same really, but it's also not all that different. Now when I cross the bridge I curse the fact that they just raised the toll to $6. My heart creaks for my daughter and when I see an American flag sadly I snort. Because I think our current administration is a joke.
I don't know what those geologists should have done when the earth caved in. Because really, which is better? Letting the poisonous gas slowly escape sight unseen, or setting it on fire to burn for all of eternity, an ulcerated wound on the world?


That Girl Designs said...

On your last thoughts; good point. Much to ponder.

erin@designcrisis said...

The blogosphere I frequent has been remarkably silent today and I was starting to think only the Republicans were going to remember... I feel like they are trying to reclaim all my memories and use them for their own purposes. I'm glad that someone is out there fighting the amnesia that comes from luxury and relative safety.

Anonymous said...

Great writing!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you but love the way you write.
signed, a Republican

Robin said...

Thank you for summing up my feelings exactly. I remember the numbness of that day 7 years ago, and almost feel guilty that for us as a culture the tragedy of that day has dissipated to a few minutes of silence overshadowed by too many minutes of coverage for those who use its memory to advance their own agendas. Seven years ago our collective grief did set our nation on fire, but now the fire has nearly gone out for most Americans. Sadly, in its place is a poisonous gas of complacency.

Anonymous said...

You snort at the American flag? Despite your feelings about the current administration, the American flag should be held in the highest regard.

Oh Brother! said...

The American flag serves as a symbol and I believe a strong enough one to withstand all the things it stands for:

1. Our collective history as a nation.
2. Who and what we are as a nation today.
3. What our nation can be.

I am often baffled by people who do not have enough confidence or trust in our nation's flag to think it can withstand the very thing it stands for, the constant evaluation of our country by its people.

I firmly believe our founding fathers and even Betsy Ross had a good snort at the British flag and then secured our rights as a nation to be free to snort as we see fit.

I can't speak for Susannah, but I can hazard a good guess. Having travelled much of the world, she is proud as a whole to be an American and want the best for her daughter's future as an American. It is only because she CARES about her country that she feels (and I on all counts) that the last 8 years has been perhaps the worst administration this country has seen and the flag can bare that responsibility.


Because remember, that flag stands for all that has been, all that is, and all that can be.

So, I too snort at the flag, like a friend I care about and say, "Phfff... flag, we can do better than this!"

And you know what, respectfully Republican, the flag waves back to me every time I do that. Perhaps saying, "Yeah yeah, you're right!"


hej said...

Amen, Oh Brother.

Anonymous said...

You Democrats are a feisty bunch!

bakingwithplath said...

I have a lot of respect for you and I love reading your blog, but this post rubbed me the wrong way. I know a lot of people that read my blog read yours as well, and just about everyone on my blogroll is a liberal, but I am willing to risk a proverbial stoning here because I want to say this.
Have you perhaps considered that the reason things aren't that different, the reason you are able to think about silly things like Isis from ANTM etc, is BECAUSE of our current administration? Don't get me wrong, I'm no Bush cheerleader, and am disappointed in many things the current administration has done, but we have to take into consideration how we have not had another attack, how we have been able to remain safe in the years since 9/11. And how can you snort when you see the flag? The flag doesn't stand for Bush, it stands for this country. Snort when you see Bush, fine, but not the flag. I found that comment to be so disrespectful and so distasteful, though hopefully that was not your intention. Like I said, I love reading your blog and respect the political differences between us, but I couldn't keep quiet about this because I feel very strongly about my views, as I know you feel strongly about yours.
A conservative

Anonymous said...

I am not a conservative but I was offended by your post. Thought you should know.

Petunia Face said...

Hi all,

Thank you for being respectful in your disagreement. I completely welcome everyone to voice their opinion as long as we're all respectful and so far, so good. Honestly thank you.

I really didn't mean to offend anyone. It's just how I feel. There have been many times in the past 8 years that I have not been proud to be an American, both here and while traveling to other countries. I could go on and on about why, what it is about the current administration, what it is that is non-partisan even that I disagree with. But really I just want to say that even though I have not been proud at times, I also know that the beauty of America is that I can voice that shame. That is my inalienable right.

I don't think our current administration is responsible for keeping us safe from another 9/11 attack. In fact, I think Bush and his administration have killed hundreds of thousands of Americans by going to war in Iraq. I think my mind wanders to Isis on AMNT not because I feel safe but because human beings can't maintain that heightened state of terror. The fire cannot burn for years.

And here's the truth: I kind of don't get the sacred cow that is the flag. I am truly sorry to have offended anyone with that comment. But after 9/11 I began to see the image of the flag heralded as a call to arms. And I did not agree with that. I did not agree with what my country had become in the world; the swelling pride that I felt watching all those firemen risk their lives to save people in the WTC turned to sorrow in seeing the response of the administration to the terrorist attacks.

Believe me, I want my throat to catch when I hear the national anthem. That's why I vote. My brother was right: we can be better than this.

Anyway, I've gone on much too long. For those that were offended I hope you can better see how I feel now without getting angry by my words.


Erin said...

I was not offended by your post at all, Susannah. (Granted, you are one of my closest friends and we share many of the same opinions, but still, I was not offended.) I personally don't think my life has completely gone back to normal since 9/11 -- I am a far more fearful person now than I was before that day, unfortunately. But, the flag comment? I took the flag comment to mean that you look at the flag and snort at the irony of what it is supposed to represent vs. what it currently represents at the hands of this administration, and I do not find that to be an offensive thing at all.

And I love Oh Brothers! take on it as well. Could not agree more.

Anonymous said...

I love my country
I love the flag
I love the fact that we can disagree and not be stoned to death!
You should too!!

scarletvirago said...

I know I'm a little late to this party, but still... good god, that was profound.

I don't disagree with a lot of what you've pointed out here, but I have a feeling that my agreement is for different reasons. But the burning metaphor? And the what if? Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Bearden 365 said...

I loved this. Thank you for being strong enough to put it out there.