Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I guess this has to be the final New York topic, there is no avoiding it. I had known from I touched down in New Jersey that whatever else I did I would pass Ground Zero at some point, not because I wanted to go like some vulture and see it but because I knew that wherever I went in downtown Manhattan there would be no way to avoid it because it is such a huge scar on its face.
I deliberately got off the tourist bus a few stops before it, not only because I didn't know how I would react to it, and I didn't want to be together with a group of tourists, but also because I needed to be alone with my only post-2001 baby when I came face to face with the scene that would forever make him different from my other kids. He was the only one born into that new world, the one that changed forever that day.
I looked at a rough map I had in my pocket to see where exactly it was, which street I should turn up to get to it, as everything is such a maze. I wasn't where I had thought. I was still in Greenwich village, so I walked and that was when I found myself at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. That was nice. I had expected to visit Ground Zero and instead I had this euphoric Brooklyn and back experience that probably took me over an hour.
When I left the Brooklyn Bridge, I didn't reconsult my map, I just walked aimlessly, figuring I would find it if I headed for the Battery Park. I turned a corner and came face to face with a huge silver station sign. It didn't register at first. I read it: World Trade Center Path Station. As the last word passed from my eyes to my brain, I became instantly as cold as ice, my heart seemed to be trying some how to escape from my throat. Tears started to roll involuntarily down my face. I looked around. I was the only single tourist. I was the only person crying. Others in groups of 3 or 4 were posing in front of the sign and smiling. I felt that was so wrong. For half and hour Léon and I quietly walked right round the site, just alone with our thoughts. One of the four sides had a wall, blocks in length just covered in the names of those people. I read the first 2 or 3 but it was too much to contemplate, so I thought of them as a group and not as individuals, just for that one day. It was the only way to walk on. From my skipping euphoria on the Brooklyn Bridge I suddenly felt a cold despair. I needed to get away from there. I walked slowly thinking: Why?