lundi, septembre 11, 2006

Four Years Ago

I was in New York again. I vowed I'd go back to the city I love and more than anything, to visit Ground Zero.

August 2001

While on my first trip we didn't visit the Twin Towers. My boyfriend at the time was an architect, and he really wanted to go to the World Trade Center. I didn't and was adamant about it. I thought they were ugly and dizzying and wanted to see other parts of the city. I was reminded of that for a long time.

We walked from our hotel in the Financial District to that area nevertheless. It's a walk I'll never forget: the small streets, the closeness of the buildings, that even though it was a busy city, that there was a sense of familiarity.

On our way we passed a public courtyard where probably one hundred people were sitting and enjoying their lunch hour within the shadow of the World Trade Center. It was so quiet that as we walked by, I thought that if we spoke too loud we might disturb them. I felt the subway moving below the street. It must have been 97 degrees in the shade and I was clammy. We held hands and communicated with each other mostly through our hand holding. Since we'd never been to New York before, we had no idea what to expect.

July 2002

A year later. The same hotel we stayed at was out of business. But we made the same walk over to the former WTC site. As we approached we walked down a set of red granite stairs. The corners of the steps were chipped and unrepaired. Debris.

Street vendors sold images of 9/11. Countless tables of Eagles, flags, and WTC replicas. Garbage. The closer we got to the fence around the site there were ragged stuffed animals, flowers, and garments attached to the fence and anything close by. Someone had left flowers for a victim and it read "Happy Birthday [name]". It was the same as my birthdate.

The fence was also masked by a green plastic mesh. People had torn peep holes into the sides. Justin showed me where to look up at the buildings surrounding the site to see the scorching of the bricks and granite from when the buildings fell.

At the time there was only one observation area. I didn't look up as we walked the ramp. Then we were standing at the fence, overlooking the site. I put my fingers up and hooked them on to the fence.

I had to hold on.

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