When my friend Hadley relayed over MSN messenger that a commercial aircraft had just collided with the World Trade Center, I didn’t know what to think. Today he’s a father and the proprietor of a restaurant, but in 2001 Hadley could cheerily be described as a “drug-addled sex offender.” I was skeptical. There were so many “dudes” and “whoas” being flung my way, I had to flip on the radio. Sure enough the world was coming to an end.
It was a confusing day. I walked all the way to class only to receive an ”in light of the day’s events…” and a quick dismissal from our calculus professor. I did what any other first-year would do. Laundry. As New York city filled with the dust of a devastated city block, I watched CNN and waited for my clothes to dry.
* * *
I’ve only been to NYC a handful of times, mostly as a child. It was a filthy city then and my parents’ anxiety about getting mugged at every street corner was oppressive. I have memories of looking up at skyscrapers from the back seat of our hatchback. I wanted to see where Saturday Night Live was filmed and strut around Times Square, but neither happened. We did however, climb the WTC.
The inside of this pamphlet declares: “For high drama, nothing tops the observation deck of the World Trade Center.” It’s true. When the preteened me stood on that square in the sky and looked out at the city, he felt like he was on the highest place on Earth. Now with satellite maps and advice animals, vistas have fallen low on the list of reasonable recreational activities. This was a good one.