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As I return to New York City from a summer in Europe, two days before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, I glance up to see the Tribute in Light – two ghostly, beautifully impossible shafts of light representing the World Trade Centre towers. Before these shafts of light stands the now single-finger gesture of the Freedom Tower, dominating the skyline just as the Twin Towers did. A sliver of new moon floats nearby.

The relevance of these symbols brings me, well, back home. I’ve lived in NYC since 1987, 1993 or 1997, depending on which government agency you ask. On the morning of 9/11, I was asleep in my apartment on Jane Street in the Meatpacking District, just north of Ground Zero. I received a phone call saying New York was under a terrorist attack and that I needed to leave as soon as possible. I sat up in bed and heard the sirens outside my bedroom window. I looked down at my naked legs, and said out loud, “Oh fuck.”

My notion of home had suddenly changed. But what is home, anyway? Cue the Gang of Four song, At Home He’s A Tourist. I’ve felt that way about everywhere I’ve lived since the age of seven, when I first moved from the States to Frankfurt, Germany, with my military father and family. My life has been nomadic by both necessity and choice. I’ve looked at my homes as “bases” –places I return to when I’m away from a home-like base. I know that sounds Arthur C Clarke, but it’s true.

Michael Stipe: ‘Are we that warlike, that childish, that afraid?’ | Art and design | The Guardian

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