Remembrance. I woke up on that gorgeous Tuesday morning delighted with what a perfect fall day it seemed to be in NYC. Crisp, with the bluest skies I will never forget. It was an election day, mayoral primary in NYC. I went straight to work that morning, at 45th and Lexington in midtown. I met my friend Mary for breakfast in our firm cafeteria at 845am and we commented on what a beautiful day it was going to be.
Life was changed irrevocably in the space of about two hours. About 9:15am I went up to my desk on the 19th floor to many emails: “are you ok?” – “call me – is everything ok”? Not having a clue what anyone was talking about….one of our associates came over and told me a plane had run into the WTC and they were thinking it was accident.
The phone calls were pouring in, the internet went out and the gravity of what had happened became instantly apparent. How can something so extreme happen so quickly and irreversibly? We sat in a conference room in front of TV in shock and disbelief. NYC was shut down. Some left to walk home via the Brooklyn Bridge and others were starting to walk to Westchester. I left work that day seeing the smoke rising from downtown manhattan, an image forever ingrained in my mind. The silence in the weeks to come was palpable. You could literally hear a pin drop on a subway or bus. It’s the only time I have known NYers to have no words.
I have the most wonderful memories of those buildings. They were my landmark, guide and protector when I was downtown. Since downtown is “off the grid” so to speak, I could always get my bearings straight emerging from the subway by my relation to the towers’ location. Before I lived in NY, my parents would take us to the Observation deck our annual NYC visits.
Also, the August day in 1974 when Philippe Petit walked on a wire between the two towers for 45 minutes…making 8 crossings between the two towers, a 1/4 of mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan. This is beautifully documented in the brilliant 2008 Documentary: Man on Wire. Check it out on Netflix.
New York City is part of everyone’s imaginative life: through movies, books, web, visits. Whether you grew up in Beijing, Barcelona or Birmingham, everyone has as New York in their head, even if they have never been there; which is why the destruction of these buildings had such an impact and was all the harder to bear.
It struck a knife in the heart of every New Yorker, knowing that we would never be able to look at our city again in the same way.
But, ultimately its the law of nature that normalcy returns. There is a fundamental kind of New York-ness that cannot be destroyed by such a cataclysmic event as this. Our day to day business came back. What city life is like, and what we all treasure about our beloved NYC was not destroyed on 9/11/01. I ♥ NY.