This is not my first memorial monument or landmark celebrating something lost. Sites I’ve visited include the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Parthenon, Chichen Itza, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. All impressive. At each, I felt a sense of reverence and awe, but I was too young to understand their history and importance. Nor did I have a personal connection to any of the events or people for whom these monuments had meaning.
This is not my first time to the place in Lower Manhattan once called Ground Zero. I was there in 2006, before plans for redevelopment were finalized. It was a chill, overcast day and an eerie sense of loss loomed in the air. A nameless, faceless undercurrent buzzed, not audibly, but on my skin, like static electricity about to spark. Visitors wandered around the fenced-in gashes and scars of the two towers. The site was crowded with the souls. The unseen souls longing to be seen, to be heard, to be understood. The souls with physical bodies just trying to process the devastation.
In the late 1980s, the World Trade Center was one of my New York haunts. I lived in Brooklyn and worked in the financial district. My commute started with the RR subway in Bay Ridge, to the Towers, and then a walk in the Towers’ shadows to Fulton Street. I knew people who worked in the Towers. My mom worked across the street prior to her leaving the work force. Soaring up to the observation deck was a must-do for all my out-of-town guests. Like so many routine places, I often didn’t even see the towers, but their presences was unmistakable.
This past summer, I was the out-of-town guest and I had to visit. I couldn’t not go given my history, and personal ghosts lingering in the faded shadows of the original towers.
I'm a Chicago-born baby raised in Connecticut with a two-year diversion in Beirut, Lebanon. As an adult, I'm a nomad having lived in New York; Connecticut; London, England; (back to) Connecticut; Ohio; and now Florida. I have traveled by foot, by bike, by air, by car, by motorcycle, by boat, and by train. I remain constantly curious about the world.