Tag Archives: new york

NYC5 – That day……

When my hubby asked me if I wanted to go to NYC for our anniversary, “yes, please,” was all I could muster before I pushed my sweet children out of the way and rushed off to pack my bag. I had been to NYC but it’d been so many years that I didn’t remember anything much about the place.

We decided to drive because we could spend more quality time together I absolutely hate flying. One of the many reasons I don’t like to fly is because about 11 1/2 years ago planes fell out of the sky.

We all remember our own details of that day. I was pregnant with my youngest. When I heard the news, I filled my car with gas, got money out of the bank, and rushed to the store to buy Krispy Kreme donuts and milk. Apparently my prenatal self thought donuts could ward of evil. It didn’t work. Evil still exists. Luckily, donuts do too.

Before we set one foot in the direction of NYC, I had my post about the 9/11 memorial half-written. I was mad and shaking my finger at the computer screen, “How could they do that? Why would they do that?” I planned to spew anger at seeing the devastation first hand, and, dear readers, I was ready to walk you down my own spiral staircase of loathing to rant against those who could devise and then carry out such a plan.

My neighbor tried to settle me down by telling me how calming the memorial was. She promised, “it’s really peaceful. You might be surprised.”

But not I. The pen is mightier than the plane and I was fully prepared.

Until we got there.

Our first view of the site was from a helicopter.

I was in awe. The holes in the space were gaping, impossible to miss. But something strange happened. I wasn’t furious. I didn’t wave my fist in the air. I just stared. It was horrific and serene.

The next morning we went for our tour at the memorial. It turns out you need tickets/visitor passes – they are free – but you have to register for them in advance. You can do that here.

We signed up for the 10am slot and lined up at 9:30am. As we were waiting, we heard the people around us telling their stories. It seemed like everyone knew someone who didn’t make it out. Just a few knew of someone who did.

One woman solemnly said, “It is only right that they memorialize those who lost their lives. I am glad they didn’t rebuild office space on the site.”

The man she was with quietly answered, “Please remember, they did not simply lose their lives, they were murdered.” His friend, a firefighter, died that day. Agony.

Those words choked my heart. I had to swallow to jump start it. I started talking to my husband because I just couldn’t take any more stories.

Finally, we presented our tickets and went through security and somehow were second in line for the grand gate opening.

When the gates opened, the first thing I saw was these men.

These men who stand watch over a monument dedicated in part to those uniformed men and women who rushed into buildings that were falling down for no other reason than to save lives. Other people’s lives. Agony.

And then we saw this.

Tranquility. Beauty. Rebuilding.

(If you can get there early, do. We only got to see this view because we got there early. Within minutes, seconds really, hundreds of people were milling about and it felt very different. More urgent.)

I walked around the entire park. The only way I knew to honor the memory of those who died on September 11th was to try to read every name. It quickly got too crowded in the park for me to read all the names, but I did try.

Some of the names looked familiar to me because I love people who share those names. It didn’t, it won’t make any sense that people could hate other people so desperately. People they have never met. That anyone would give up his own life to destroy the life of another. It didn’t, it won’t make sense who was chosen. I wondered, “why them?”

“Why did that Ellen die and not me.” I selfishly thanked God but wondered why again and again as I connected with name after name.

And then I saw this.

And her unborn child.”

Debilitating agony.

Throughout the morning, I read that phrase six more times. There may have been more but parts of the wall were crowded and it was hard to see around the people.

Overwhelming sadness gripped me. No anger. Just devastating sadness because of such unnecessary loss. The promise of so much obliterated by unearned hatred. It made it hard for me to hate back. I was just so very, very sad.

I will never find the exact poetic words to tell you how beautiful this memorial place is. I just love that they built waterfalls flowing from near ground level into the holes the collapsed buildings created. The designers captured the devastation and America’s defiance of that ridiculous hate magically. The running water is calming. The sky is wide open. It feels like God is watching us shine.

Country Mouse in the Big Apple……

This weekend, Number One Hubby and I snuck away to NYC. We scrunched a lot of  stuff into a little bit of time but it was awesome.

Of course, I started out by making some new friends. New York City’s finest really are the finest. The police presence is everywhere and they are delightful.

We walked several blocks and then decided to hop on the subway (when we realized we had about 6 miles to go). The stations are a bit grimy but I was surprised that the trains weren’t super crowded. Hubby didn’t really want me taking pictures on the train and drawing attention to us for being tourists, but I don’t always listen so well. 😉

And, besides, I am not exactly sure what it is about this look that screams, “tourist”.

I don’t like to fly and I am not a fan of crowded spaces, so the idea of a helicopter ride wasn’t exactly appealing to me. Hubby really wanted to do it, so I put on my big girl life vest and climbed in.

What I learned about helicopters right away is that they tilt forward when they take off. It kind of feels like you are going to slide off your seat right in to the deep, cold, dark water below. Not fabulous.

But our sweet pilot straightened us out quickly and we flew past the Statue of Liberty first. She is just beautiful. In all her welcoming glory.

Amazing. Really. Amazing.

And then we flew over Ground Zero (which I will write more about in a later post) and over the skyline of the city. We saw the new building that will tower over the terror that struck two buildings down on 9/11. We saw the Yankees Stadium and Times Square and Central Park and Rikers Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.

I can’t believe I am saying this but I highly recommend the helicopter tour if you have time.

When we were leaving the heliport, we saw these guys dancing. Welcome to New York, baby. They were lots of fun.

We ended the night with dinner at The View restaurant – a rotating restaurant atop the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square – and a show at Caroline’s Comedy Club.

Did I take a picture with the headliner John Witherspoon? Now, that is a silly question.

And please notice I am wearing cute tops the entire trip. I spared my poor hubby the sweat pants/white t-shirt fashion mishap I usually don. 😎

I have lots more to share and will write more tomorrow.