Thinking about the proximity of ra ra’s temporary domicile not only to my old office but also to the World Trade Center site got me started on the following thread:
The summer of 2001 found a handful of us Cooper EEs working in the financial district. Tauseef, ever the social person, scheduled a weekly lunch for whoever could make it.
One week, only he and I were able to meet up for lunch. Having exhausted most of the more attractive lunch options east of Broadway, we went to a nondescript restaurant on Broadway and grabbed our lunches to go. It was a beautiful day. I don’t think it was terribly warm, but it was all blue skies as far as the eye could see (which arguably isn’t very far when you’re in the land of skyscrapers).
We walked a block west on Fulton, crossed Trinity, walked up the steps to the Trade Center plaza, and ate our lunches by the fountain in the center of the complex. The grounds were abuzz with people flitting from one place to another; benches and spaces were occupied with office workers dining alfresco; and there was a stage set up to the west where a live band, in concert with Mother Nature, provided the ambience for the midday meal.
It was a good place to escape from the dark and narrow passages that are lower Manhattan’s roads, from the often-littered sidewalks teeming with activity, where blue jeans and suits commingle in an epitome of urban living. Although you remained in the shadow of two towering structures with commanding presence, an abundance of open space was available for everyone’s enjoyment, and it was as free as the air itself.
Tauseef and I ate our lunches, talking about everything and nothing, enjoying the magnificent setting.
I dwelled on that thought for awhile, trying to recall the pristine images of that day without tainting it with memories of that which was to come only two months later.
The first few times I commuted from my home in Jamaica Estates, I would take the F to Union Turnpike and then switch to an E and ride that all the way to the end of the line. I’d ride in the first car, which would end up being the closest to the turnstiles at the terminal. At my destination I would zigzag through the subterranean shopping complex and take an escalator that brought me to the Borders store at ground level and the exit out of 5 WTC. Then I’d walk the several blocks to the office on Maiden Lane. Sometimes on my way home I’d stop at the Krispy Kreme and pick up some good old-fashioned artery-clogging treats for later.
Then I realized that the Fulton-Bway-Nassau station was much closer, so I’d instead take the F to West 4th and transfer upstairs to the A/C.
I still remember the view from my 12th floor office window of the tops of those towers.
I can’t help but think of how lucky she is not to have any associations with that neighborhood, that living there doesn’t freak her out as much as it potentially could. The site resembles a typical construction site now, with the exception that this is a construction site that inspires pilgrimages from all over. She has no memories to superimpose on the scenes presented to her today; her brain will not instinctively fill in the missing details whenever she casts her gaze at the skyline.
New York may be a daunting place to her, but she’ll be fine. All the same, I can’t help but feel…protective of her? That was my adopted home for four years, after all. But she’ll be fine. I know this.