Friday, November 12, 2010

Time Stands Still

Quick trip to New York City this weekend to visit the Tenement Museum on the lower East Side to do a little research for a future story. (More on that in a future blog.)

Also caught a Broadway play, Time Stands Still.

A photographer (Laura Linney) and her boyfriend of nine years, a writer, are back in Brooklyn after she has narrowly missed death from an IED in the Middle East. She is badly hurt physically and he's a mess emotionally. Meanwhile their editor, who's older than they are, plans to marry his pregnant ditzy juvenile girlfriend.

I know journalists just like the Laura Linney character -- smart, sarcastic, eye rolling and absolutely convinced that her contribution to humanity is to chronicle the inhumanity of war even if it means getting blood and brain tissue spattered on her camera lens. She does it by making herself into a brick wall that never crumbles. The baby would have died anyway, she tells the ditzy girlfriend. I helped it by taking its picture minutes before it died. Otherwise no would have known.

Her boyfriend doesn't buy it the argument. He's seen all that she's seen and he doesn't want to see any more. He wants to get married, have children. Make a direct contribution to the world.

That Laura Linney character is me, I thought to myself. Brave, strong, convinced she can only be right all the time. Watching the play made me want to be a war correspondent, I thought.

As we walked down Broadway back to our hotel, I asked my daughter Becky, 14, what she would do. Would she go back to photographing war, famine and genocide, or would she stay in a comfortable home where she knew she would have food, shelter and all the penicillin she needed?

"I would continue to document the awfulness until I reached the point where evil was my
drug, my addiction," she said after a long silence. "But once seeing pain and suffering felt good, I'd go home."

She's a wise girl I look forward to knowing as woman.

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