I went to Pioneer Square

I went to Pioneer Square at noon to see if there was an observance, and to be with the people. There were banners and pens laid out on the ground for Portlanders to send wishes to New York. I signed, but I think I said something trite. I was at a loss.

This was the first time I’d really been in a crowd since 911. Though I’ve been in my own grief, not once have I thought to buy a flag or wear its colors. Nationalism has always been tough for me to wrap my head around. I don’t want to withdraw from the world. This should bring us closer together, not cause Americans to retreat into a jingoist cocoon. In any case, there I was, surrounded by people wearing little flags, and dressed in red, white, and blue. The crowd became thicker as noon approached, and I began to feel uncomfortable. No agoraphobia here, just something wrong. Then it hit me. I scanned the crowd for minutes. It took me quite a while, but I finally found one face darker than Thomas Jefferson’s. One, out of hundreds. I was stunned. This wasn’t my city. This wasn’t even my country. This was White Twilight Zone. Creeped out, I left.

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