November 11th, 2005



There aren't a lot of family photos of Ariane smiling; as a tiny child she had lost a milk tooth early from an accident, and so didn't have one until the second tooth grew in. I think it affected her tendency to be sombre in photographs. But her smile was one of her amazing characteristics -- it lit up her face and had a power to dazzle.

The image I have chosen here owes apologies to both the subject and the photographer -- it was probably not one that either would have chosen for her portfolio. But it is what I have. I can imagine one of Ariane's other looks: the cocked eyebrow and sardonic, "what the heck...?" expression...

Photos by Ritu


11/11, veteran's day. Four years ago on 11/11 were were in New York City, at Ground Zero. The wreck of the towers was still sharp and reeking. I remember the day the towers came down, 9/11 -- in my car on the way to work, listening on the radio, screaming and crying as the planes smashed, the towers shivered and crumbled... Ariane's last known location was New York. Her last phone message said that she, and her then-boyfriend, Shannon McCarthy, had found a place to stay, and I still think of it as the place where she is. I realize that the odds of her being in or near the World Trade Center were pretty low, given that her life was lived as far from the corporate world as possible. Her boyfriend's cousin died in one of the towers -- I don't know if Ariane or Shannon ever knew that. But by whatever irrational power of the human brain, the loss of the towers became entwined with the loss of Ariane in my mind. That year, my spouse and I went on a pilgrimage to New York to commemorate her birthday. We left her picture and the legend that her family loved her everywhere we went. We walked to Steps, the dance studio that she favored and left our paper prayer there. We left it at Lincoln Center, by the American Ballet Theatre, where I had brought her for auditions. It turned out to be surprisingly difficult to leave them in and around Times Square -- Giuliani's anti-graffitti, anti-postering policies had made the place antiseptic. Sometimes they were left in secret places. We walked from 77th St. to Ground Zero, and left her picture and roses at St. Paul's. And in our own little ritual observation, we set our paper prayers on the waters of the Hudson, where the nereids mourn.


In medieval times, the vigil, or eve of a holy day was as important as the day itself -- witness All Hallows Eve, where the day is now little observed, but the vigil much celebrated. Tonight is the vigil of Ariane's birthday. In the tradition of All Hallow's Eve and Christmas Eve, when candles are lit for the lost, there are 30 candles burning on the front rail of my porch, one for every year, and the Lady of Guadalupe burning in the window.