I was watching TV last night as the Pisces full moon rose like a huge golden ball above the distant line of trees. The news on every channel (well ok, on the three channels that I get) was full of September 11 stories. There were interviews with survivors, the families of those who lost their lives, fireman who attended the scene and even a couple of reporters got to tell their tale between the repeated footage of the Twin Towers crashing to the ground like a huge stack of dusty bricks. On the tenth anniversary of this unexpected tragedy, the question on everyone’s lips seems to be, “where were you on September 11?”
I cycled through the crowded streets of the Red Light District, dodging drunks, dealers and tight clusters of stoned tourists who paraded through intersections completely unaware of traffic. Their bodies moved forward but their heads twisted frantically from left to right as their eyes fixated on the scantily clad girls in the lace trimmed windows who smiled and beckoned enticingly I made a right turn and instantly regretted it. I was stuck behind a big mob of weekend revellers standing outside the doorway to a small theatre. The weathered signage out the front boasted “3 Live Sex Shows for 50 guilden”. A bargain surely, I thought, as I dismounted and pushed my bike through the stubborn crowd.
It was a girlfriend’s birthday and she had organised a suprise show for the guests which included me doing a little aerial acrobatics outside her second floor window. I had gone to her place once already to rig up my gear and after climbing the long winding stairs to the very top floor, I crawled warily through the junk in her attic to reach the tiny triangular window which overlooked the canal. It took a couple of hearty thumps to push it open and a gust of cool air rushed in to join me in the dusty room.
I leaned out and surveyed the hook which protruded out about a metre from the brickwork. Dutch folk used these ancient hooks to haul furniture up into their apartments via the windows, since the stairs accommodated very little. Even grande pianos were known to make their way into their new homes in this fashion, so I figured that the hook would probably hold a single girl like me. I looped a climbing strap over the hook, attached my performance Silks (7 metres of flowing fabric which I was going to climb on later) and let the fabric fall, watching as it unfurled in the afternoon breeze. So far, so good. I looked down. Crap. The fabric wasn’t even close to the ground and it needed to touch the street by at least half a metre. I was going to need a lot more gear.
So there I was, trying to get across town and back by sunset, pushing my way through the busiest part of the centrum to reach the ferry across to the north side and my rehearsal studios where I kept all of my equipment. It was an hour and a half’s ride at least and that was without this human traffic jam. Where did all these people come from? A headache had grown on me thoughout the day. I was tired, getting hungry and increasingly upset as I jostled through the chaotic streets. I felt a tension grow thoughout my body as I persevered on my mission and I started wondering if it was worth the trouble. The world seemed to be working against me that day with one thing going wrong after another and here yet here I was, still pushing my way through this unyielding crowd.
Suddenly there was a scuffle and I was shoved roughly to the side, my feet tangled in the bike pedals and I hit the street, falling hard on the uneven cobblestones. I started to cry. I didn’t even get up, I just kicked my bike to the side and crawled up to the wall, leant my back against the bricks and covered my face with my hands. I’d had enough. I didn’t even care anymore what was going on around me. I just needed to retreat. I decided then that I would cancel my show, tell my friend that it was too hard to organise and just go and enjoy the party.
As soon as I made that decision I felt the tension release and I immediately started feeling better. I wiped my eyes and got to my feet. I felt lighter, my headache had eased and miraculously the street had cleared. It was bizarre, like there had never even been a crowd there. I looked around. A few tourists wandered by and the bouncer a few doors down was giving me a funny look, so I dusted myself off, picked up my bike and took off.
As I reached the waterfront I was feeling positive again and I paused at the ferry – home to get dressed for the party, or to the studios to get more gear? I had promised my friend that I would do something for her, and I didn’t want to let her down. The chaotic struggle in the street seemed like a distant memory, almost like a dream……..fkk it why not? I turned towards the theatre precinct and pushed my bike hard against the oncoming wind.
That night I misjudged a move and hit the cobblestones for a second time, falling about 3 metres and landing hard on my right hip. An ice-pack and a couple of glasses of wine and I was alright, but I was lucky. That fall could have been a head injury, or worse. In the morning we all watched in horror as the news revealed the first images of the World Trade Centre going down in pieces.
I performed for another 10 years and never had another fall. I learned to never dismiss what the energy is trying to tell me. If you feel like you are pushing against the flow, you are probably going in the wrong direction, and you never know what might be around the corner. So when people ask me where I was on September 11, I tell them that I was just hanging around, learning a very valuable lesson.