Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Center of the Center of the Universe

So, I don't understand why I am the only one who has not been interviewed yet. I mean, I am the reason that all of this is happening. I am the one who has had my life forever changed. I let everyone in. I told them it was ok to come. This is my story. I am Zuccotti Park, although some people call me Liberty.

Let me start at the beginning. Well, really at the beginning as far as the world is concerned. I live in the center of the universe. Sure, times have not always been so good here. There was that day about ten years ago when my neighbors near the water were attacked, and literally destroyed. Everyone, including me, was covered in a blanket of death and destruction. I was scared and depressed and all who came to visit me for the longest period could only talk about those terrible moments. But, as the years passed, life returned to normal.

On most days the people who would come to visit me spoke mainly in terms of what they had and what they had accomplished. I heard of homes in the Hamptons, of promotions and of money, lots of money. There had been that time when I learned of things like derivatives, default swaps and for a moment there was fear of a total collapse. Those who visited seemed frozen, unable to figure out what had gone wrong or how to stop it. But suddenly, that fear went away. The talk soon returned to the home at the shore and to even more money than before.

I can't say I have had a lot of good friends over the years. Some came to see me regularly. Most of the time though, I have been visited by those who are just passing through on their way to something more important. I have always been kind of an afterthought. But no more.

It all started off innocently. A few people, really just a few, had been turned away from one of my neighbors, and had no place to go. They came to me, asking if it was ok if they hung out with me for a little. I had never turned anyone away before, and I was certainly not going to start then.

They were different from almost anyone else I had ever met, certainly from anyone who had spent much time with me. They were unhappy, very unhappy with almost everyone I knew. They told me tales of deception and greed. They talked of being forgotten and abused. And they didn't want to leave.

I was shocked. My whole life, when it got dark, everybody always cleared out. I was alone each and every evening to contemplate the events of the day. All the conversation and noise would end. But, not that first night, and not every night since. I had guests who had decided they were not going anywhere. Kind of like the last line in "The Big Chill" only this was reality.

And I didn't know how to react. In many ways, this was much more interesting than anything that had ever happened to me. Now there was constant activity here, and there was much animated talk.

In looking back, those first few days were relatively peaceful. Every once in a while, someone from the press might stop by to interview one of my guests and to find out what all the noise was about. I can't say that I fully understood the "big picture" or that this would not be over one day soon. Then came the march.

Suddenly, that evening in middle of last week, I was swarming with people. Crowds were lining up for blocks to get in. Thousands upon thousands were chanting slogans and demanding attention. There were union representatives and celebrities in my midst. And there were cameras everywhere.

Now, others like me are springing up all over the country. They are taking in strangers every day, and more and more are coming. It turns out that I had become home to a movement.

I have come to like my new friends. Sure it can be overwhelming. Who wouldn't long, at least a little, for the peace and quiet of the old days? But there is an energy and a vitality here that I have never felt before. And my eyes have been opened for the first time. For so long, I had heard only one side of the conversation. No more, and never again will that be true.

Yesterday was a little scary. You see, many are more than a little annoyed with my new friends. They want them gone from here and gone from the conversation. They said my guests had made me too dirty and had to leave, at least for a little while. And when they came back, they were to be only passing through really. But the truth is that my friends had never treated me badly. They had been respectful and had always cleaned up after themselves. Now, challenged, they went to the task of making me cleaner than when they first arrived. By yesterday morning, you could have eaten off my floor. I was as fresh and pure as new driven snow. And for now anyway, my guests are allowed to stay.

And so, I remain home to a strange and wonderful crowd. Someday soon it may all change. Certainly when the cold and the rain sets in, some will leave. And by the winter, I expect that life will be what it was before. And that I will be visited by only a few each day. And that the talk will turn, eventually, back to second homes and bonuses. But life will never be the same for me again. For now I can always and forever say, I was once the center of the center of the universe.


Anonymous said...

One of your best.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! A very creative piece.
Thank you - off to a CA "Occupy".

Robert said...

Hope we get a report back from California on the tentacles of the center of the center of the universe.