September 11th is my generation’s Kennedy assassination. I could remember being in the car with Jessica and her mom, so nervous about being late to school. It was the first week of my freshman year of high school so I was a ball of nerves. We were listening to Z100 and I could still hear Elvis, the morning DJ, announce that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and they didn’t know if it was some sort of freak accident or a deliberate attack. I tried to put it out of my head because I had other things to worry about, like navigating through the 2,999 other students to get to class. I finally made it to my math classroom when the fire alarms started to ring. Within minutes, the whole school was back outside. “Does this have something to do with the plane crash?” I wondered. After about 45 minutes of waiting around, we found out that the school had a bomb scare. I found some friends and together we asked a teacher if we could leave. “I can’t tell you to go and I can’t tell you to stay.” he responded. We started to walk home when my friend’s mother pulled up next to us and told us to get in to the car. She dropped me off at home where I tried to call my mom at work. The phone lines were crossed and I kept getting different departments. I turned on the TV and saw that this “plane crash” was all over the news. My mom was finally able to get through. As we were talking, Jessica came pounding on my door. She told me that I couldn’t stay home alone and that her mom would take me to her house. I had no idea what to do, so I went. In the car, I found out that tower one had collapsed. We got back to Jessica’s and sat around the TV for the rest of the afternoon. Images of people covered in dust and debris filled the screen. We watched the buildings fall, people wander aimlessly in total shock, the first responders trying to help whoever they could. Lower Manhattan was a ghost town. It was unbelievable that just across the river all of this madness was going on. My mom came straight to Jessica’s house after work to pick me up. We went home and tried to process what just happened.
In the February following the attacks, I went with Jessica, her mom and her uncle to Ground Zero. Well, we were actually going to the Century 21 that’s down the block, but since we were there and it was open enough to the public, we figured we would take a peek. It was still being cleaned up, bodies/body parts were still being found. There was dust still lingering on some of the buildings. I’ll never forget the bike. It was covered in dust and missing person’s flyers. It must have belonged to a messenger or courier and was attached to a pole, as if it were waiting for its owner to come back for it. The missing persons flyers were everywhere. Smiling faces of people who… well. We passed Trinity Church, which I remember, looked so dark and scary. The air was heavy. Not so much with dust but with sadness. It’s a feeling that I’ll never forget. The city, usually so alive and loud, seemed to just stop.
A few weeks ago, after we paid Taylor Swift a visit, Lisa and I took a walk over to One World Trade. Maybe because the last time I was there it was nighttime, but it felt so bright. Too bright. There were tourists everywhere. Now, you know how I feel about tourists, but this was too much. I think the problem is that the area is too clean now. It’s too sparkly and flashy, which makes it hard to believe or remember that anything bad happened here. It looks like another one of New York’s famous landmarks, which I guess it sort of is now, huh? I think whoever planned this out did a lovely job, but it’s New York and it needs some grit. Maybe if there was something (other than the museum) to keep people grounded and put things into perspective, it would be a little better. Maybe they should have figured out a way to keep the bike there. I’m sure it was taken away a long time ago, long before the area became all shined and prettied up. Then again, with all of the visitors that come it would probably get lost in the shuffle and its significance would basically be nothing. Because let’s face it, there could be all the signs and staff in the world offering information, but people are going to read and hear what they want to read and hear. Lisa and I, quite frankly, couldn’t afford to go up to the Observation Deck (but it’s definitely on my list of things to do) or down in to the museum so we just passed through the hoards of people to get to the reflection pools. This is where I get a little annoyed with my tourist friends.
Maybe it’s because I’m a New Yorker. And maybe because of that I can’t separate myself or be unbiased. The reflection pools were surrounded by people. Cool, until it wasn’t. These people were taking selfies and letting their kids stand on the ledge of the pool. I don’t want to be that Touchy Tammy who shits on someone’s vacation but show some respect. The reflection pools were built in the footprints of the Twin Towers. So, again, not to piss on anyone’s good time, you are essentially letting your kid stand on someone’s final resting place. #sorrynotsorry Maybe I shouldn’t say anything because I was there taking pictures too, but I wasn’t making the Freedom Tower my selfie backdrop and I sure as hell had my feet on the sidewalk.
About a week ago I saw someone from high school post a Facebook status that 9/11 should be a national holiday. Sorry (not really), but I’m going to have to disagree. September 11th should be remembered and treated with respect. It should not be an excuse to get a day off from work. It should also not be another day for stores to make a profit on. I could wait for October and it’s lovely Columbus Day sales. Thanks for discovering America, Chris. And also for this 30% discount on these fabulous shoes! #hypocritemuch?
Have you been to the Freedom Tower? September 11th as a national holiday – yay or nay?