Today, July 20th, I drove with my children and mother-in-law through New Jersey. I knew we were approaching New York City, knew that we might see it. And then, we breached a hill and, in the distance, I saw the grey shadow of the Freedom Tower.
This incredible building, a skyscraper that twisted in a permanent pirouette, was there on the other edge of a false horizon and, suddenly, my spirits that were far from depressed and far from low were lifted, elevated, catapulted into a sky that, ironically, held a plane that had just lifted in a grand take-off.
I haven’t been to New York City since 1985 when I was in seventh grade. I remember seeing the Twin Towers and, not knowing that was their nickname, thinking that they should be called twins..because they were perfectly identical.
I miss those buildings. I miss them in a landscape that is irrevocably altered and just as beautiful but so lonely, so lonely without the various brother and sister buildings that used to stand in a totally different latitude.
My mother-in-law noticed my emotional moment and kindly asked, “Are you having a moment?”
Yes. Yes I was then. Yes I am now. Because as I recline on my hotel bed in Northern New Jersey, my mind is still saturated with a tower that stood as a ghost within the clouds of….pollution? Distance? A mist of humidity? A temporal plane of emotion and history?
Tomorrow, we will go to New York City. Tomorrow, we will walk crowded streets and stand out as quintessential tourists–minus the fanny packs. I didn’t pack my fanny pack.
I will be a stranger on those long streets and avenues filled with people who might not look up anymore because of the specters of falling people mingled among the debris and fireballs. But my eyes will be drawn to the sky, to the clouds that will slowly crawl across the sky and maybe back to my home to bring the rain to my garden that might be missing me.
But I hold the stories of New York City, at least those I have collected through books and documentaries and research. They are deep within me, a part of my own iron ribs that hold me up when I question my career and the choices I make.
I have a journal in my bag, a book about gardens. I have my camera, a new iPod, a map, and so many fragments of dreams about all the places that I want to explore but have been too nervous o find the beginning of the paths.
I’m ready. I have my running shoes. Let’s go.