The fifth anniversary of the day the towers fell has come and gone. I had thought about posting my pictures of the towers, but they’re part of my memories and the media has already been saturated with those images. I remember on one of my trips standing next to one of the towers and looking up as far as I could without falling over, craning my neck to take it all in. I remember being in the lobby and taking pictures as Jerry asked, “do you want to take the elevator to the roof?” Oh hell no, I wasn’t about to risk being sucked over the edge, but I quietly admired all the people lined up to do just that. If I’m not mistaken, they sold tickets to go up to the roof; it was a bit like a theme park. The kind of ride Anna would have gotten on without a thought and if they’d had cables long enough, she would have doubtlessly bungeed off the edge.
Almost everyone has a memory of that day; it’s a bit like the phenomenon of the JFK assassination. Where were you on November 22, 1963? Me? On September 11, I was eating a bowl of cereal watching the television and just 9 short hours away from being on vacation. The news showed a plane hit the towers and the world tried to figure out what had happened meanwhile, the second plane hit. By the time I got to work the first tower had fallen. I think that’s the one thing I couldn’t get my mind around. Like the Titanic was “unsinkable”, I didn’t have room in my head to believe a tower could fall. We watched the news for several days straight until late Friday night I couldn’t take it anymore.
Five years later, those towers are still falling, the Pentagon is still burning and a plane is lying in the middle of a field in Pennsylvania. The aftermath on an international level is felt every time you read the news. We weep and we make the world feel our pain. We make them bleed.
I see the loss of innocence. From Jerry who still cringes every time he hears a plane flying too low over Manhattan to our friend’s brother who made it out of the towers but will likely remain in therapy for the rest of his life; finally having to leave New York. I think of our family friend’s son Ben, who’d just arrived in New York for a fresh start, had an interview that morning and got caught in the debris storm that rolled down the streets. Ben had to pull a woman to safety after the dark cloud that enveloped her blinded her. The two of them felt their way along the edge of a building until they reached a door.
Manhattan was always my escape for those times that I was feeling low and could scrape the money together. It was my safe haven; it’s still my safe haven – the place I’d rather be. And I believe in the call of these words and their promise:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
… and I feel tired and lost and sad.