My feet were on fire. Crippled as though I intentionally walked a turtle pace over searing coals. Yet there was a determination to arrive before sunset.
My last memory of the towers were seen through the eyes of a chubby child. Brooding monoliths – the epicenter of New York. I recall peering up at them, agog at their ability to touch the heavens, wondering if they communed with God. We visited a store, a vast one where I could select any doll representing a country. My visual senses were intrigued with a doll from Panama, she was clothed in a flamenco style dress, dark glossy hair spilling down, a serene smile suffusing her face. Little did I know her gypsy image would become my emblem.
After that, I filed away those memories as an important site of New York, where workers conducted business and sold pretty dolls. Until September 11, 2001. I secretly rallied against a corporate mentality, but my beliefs were not in play here. Politics, personal ethics, or conspiracy theories aside, those who perished were humans with dreams, possibly even to escape a 8/9 hour day in the towers. What a horrible way to exit, most undesired.
I walked down Worth Street, willing my aching legs to comply – make it to Center at least. I cut down Church Street, eager to trek to the end. What hit me was a mob of workers/commuters.
All of them in a mad rush to start the long commute home. Maybe as far as Brooklyn or Queens. The edges of sunset started to form on the horizon. People walked by the site unfazed, probably replaying a list of tasks to do before getting home. I obviously had one intention.
It was heavily fenced and policed, a mass of construction workers assembled concentrating on the task of rebuilding. At certain moments my skill as a writer comes in handy, other times it’s annoying. I could almost imagine that day – see the crumbled concrete, hear the frantic shrieks. Feel the vibrating madness and chaos.
It was somber to see a cementary near.
I’m not a ghoul seeker by trade, but when you recall something as it was, sometimes it’s important to revisit, to know what exists today. A place’s dark history is telling. As a traveler, we have the chance to see both through historical records and architecture. Never dismiss the power of storytelling.
After stalking the site a bit with my camera, I visited the 9/11 Memorial Preview space, just off Church Street.
A sequence of that fateful day is available to visitors as well as a model of the new buildings. What I discovered inside: my renewed respect for what constitutes the building blocks of America. That bullish spirit in the face of adversity, the ability to continue forward. Overall, the World Trade site will have 7 towers built. 7 World Trade Center across from the site opened in 2006, earning LEED gold. The whole project is ambitious and a roar against tragedy.
We tend to be creatures of habit, thus clinging to a set of protocols that may not always be beneficial. The lost towers serves as reminder to shake ourselves into a state of dreams. What we deem so precious can be squelched in a blink of an eye.
It was night. Time to brace for the walk and biting wind.
Century 21 was near, a good place for cheap shoes or marked down designers. Somehow, I wasn’t in the mood for shoes.
For more information visit National Memorial 9/11.
To chart construction progress: WTC Progress.