Go Home
October 14, 2001
Although we didn't intend to do so in our original plans, we wound up spending the day in New York today. Since we ended up just 40 miles outside of there (in Piscataway, New Jersey) when it was time to stop for the night, we decided to leave the RV's parked in Wal Mart and ride the "Path" from New Jersey into the city where we hopped the subway into downtown. We got off as near as we could to the Wall Street exit and made our way to where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

One of the reasons I decided to go was that as sad as this chapter is, it is certainly history in the making. I have been driving hundreds of miles visiting historical sites from hundreds of years ago and it seemed ridiculous to drive on by our own particular page without experiencing what I could of it. And although we could not get really close, it was still a momentous thing to see. Looking up at the massive buildings that were left damaged nearby and realizing they are tiny compared to what came tumbling down was a very sobering experience. A month after the attacks, the burnt smell still filled the air, and the sight of the ruins where two colossal buildings once stood was surreal and sobering.
Walking around with the other viewers also looking shell-shocked gave me a feeling of comraderie with them and made me want to hug people on the street. Later when I thought about it I was sorry I hadn't really done it. Seeing the many memorials and the pictures of the missing loved ones made the reality more personal and painful. Everyone sought a way to comfort and be comforted and try to make sense of such a senseless act. The daze and sadness I saw in everyone's eyes that day is something I will never forget.
The city seemed eerily quiet and the local people we talked to said although Sundays were always typically much less crowded, since the disaster it's been even quieter with a lot less people. The tourists are badly missed (or at least the revenue they bring) and merchants closest to "ground zero" are really hurting. We wound up talking to a few local people seeking assurance that we were getting on the right trains and that was especially interesting. A young girl who worked 5 blocks from the center actually saw the second plane hit. It took her hours to walk home since the subways were closed down immediately and her cell phone did not work. She's also a student and said her parents were scared to death until they heard from her that day. She was a delight to talk to and we hugged like old friends before we parted ways.
A young man we spoke to on the way back expressed how much more kind people were to each other, how much more they spoke to each other. He also noticed that his priorities had changed - partying and his career had consumed all his attention before September 11th. Now he and his friends are thinking of finding partners, of marriage and family. So much has changed for our nation - we've heard time and again how life will never be the same. All of us hope that somehow the changes this tragedy has visited on us will have at least some positive effect - in ways that we can only await and aspire to now. And while I don't think we'll ever be able to honestly look back and say it was all worth it - there has been too much loss and way too much sorrow to ever balance those scales - I do hope we won't be blind to the constructive impact that is always possible in any situation and the kindness and generosity that such disasters can call forth in all of us.
Although we didn't take the ferry out to Ellis Island, we did get a nice glimpse of the Statute of Liberty and saw the Empire State Building. We found the New Yorkers we met to be very friendly and helpful when we were unsure how to use the subway system. With their help, before we staggered on home to soak our feet, we walked down Times Square and sipped a latte in Bryant Park.
Copyright by Malia Lane - all rights reserved