Cicadas, Terror Attacks and The Buzz of Time

So they say it’s a 17-year thing.  The Cicada thing. The insects that bury themselves for 17 years and then reappear and make lots of noise and consume vegetation and then die.

I know people that do just that same thing every summer.

I live on the end of Long Island. A place called the Hamptons, which sprung up a few hundred years ago with a smattering of hamlets. This was back when things were new and folks could name places and add “new” to it.  New York, New Hampshire, etc.

History, time. They become relative to all of us – whether we were a part of it, knew of it, or don’t have a clue. And those who remember, they recall it differently. And those who don’t, do the same.

I was born in 1971. I grew up in New York City going to school downtown and used the World Trade Center for navigation. For 30 years, The Towers had always been there for me. When I popped out of a subway station lost, I would look to find the hulking landmarks to differentiate north from south.

As a child, I visited the top of both of the Trade Center and the Empire State Building. I liked the latter better as the observation deck was outside, high, on top of the city. That made the view more real to me. Wind in my face, I suppose. That and King Kong had been there, maybe.

Also, the fact that World Trade Center was two buildings took something away from each of them. I’m still not sure why. Maybe it was because twins always freaked me out. Identical worse. Nothing against either one of them.

Flash forward to February 1993. I was in a car and made a wrong turn trying to go uptown heading west when the first World Trade Center bombing happened. I made a left in the Village and got stuck in what seemed like another go-figure traffic jam. I was contemplating how to explain this to my boss when the hum of gossip spread on the streets, shouts of speculation going from car to car.

Word was the Brooklyn Bridge fell or maybe a tunnel collapsed.

There was no Internet around. Just my suitcase cell phone that belonged to my boss that I wasn’t allowed to use (and didn’t work anyway), and a car phone hooked up to a crazy fax machine. At least that’s how I remember it.

The World Trade Center had been bombed, but nobody ever mentions that happening anymore.

Kids that were born in 1993 are 20-years-old now. Most of them don’t even really remember 9/11. If you are older this seems amazing. The same way other tragic benchmarks must seem the same way to others. Man on the moon. Kennedy being shot. Pearl Harbor.

Back in the resort destination called the Hamptons, cicadas are now a topic of conversation. We talk about these small creatures and how they make lots of noise, create temporary damage and then pass on.  For local business owners and landlords, this sounds all too familiar.

If change is good, then I’m happy to have these winged friends return here and make all the noise they want. There’s a lot to chirp about.

Time marches on, actions cannot be undone, new events are added to the history books.

The thing I never knew growing up in New York City before 9/11, and using the World Trade Center as my beacon, was that it was actually completed a year after I was born. That’s just what I know.

We name.

We enter.

We leave.

We lose, live, and love.

We forget.

We remember.

We make noise.

Seventeen years from now, we’ll do the same with a new hum coming from little winged visitors vacationing in our trees.


Nick Kraus is a partner of The Stephen Talkhouse, a live music venue in Amagansett, New York, as well as a founder of the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit dedicated to helping honor and empower wounded service members.


Photo Courtesy of Mihai.Tamasila/