Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Manhattan when I was young :: A Tribute to a city, the victims of 9 -11 and their families

Photo: Matt Weber

Our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters... Our best friends and loved ones perished much too soon. You remain forever young in our hearts... you remain in our thoughts and prayers... Angels among us...

As many of you know I grew up in Manhattan. The towers, along with the Chrysler and Empire State Building made up the skyline as I knew it. You can't get lost in New York, all you have to do is look up! The buildings will guide you and take you to where you want to go... and they will bring you back home safely. The skyline, the streets filled with cabs and busy pedestrians and extravagant shopping is part of my own personal landscape. Like the street vendor selling hot pretzels. Like the hansom cabs. Like the homeless man on the corner or the children running and skipping down the sidewalk... Or the young lovers strolling through the park holding hands. The artist, the photographer, the crazy haired hippie, the business man, the dog walker with 12 dogs of varying sizes... these people are all my Manhattan. As is Central Park in Spring. Central Park in the Fall. Central Park when it snows. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. St. Patrick's Cathedral. Rockefeller Center. The Plaza. Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue... Tiffany and Company. Wollman rink. The boat basin. The boathouse. The traffic! Tavern on the Green, which sadly no longer exists. They are all my Manhattan when I was young. And all I have to do is close my eyes and know they are there. I close my eyes and I can see the towers. Strong. Tall. Majestic. Radiant in the morning sun. Glorious at sunset. All I have to do is close my eyes...

I left Manhattan when I was in my early 20s. I did not go very far. I went all the way to Greenwich, Connecticut. Highbrow, austere, elegant, tony, wealthy (though I had not a penny!) Greenwich, Connecticut. I didn't care much about the exquisite shopping on Greenwich Avenue back then, I was all about Todd's Point. Park, beach, nature preserve. Sublimely beautiful. Serene. Tranquil. Paradise. Lined by beautiful sandy beaches and endless trails for biking, running and walking. This park is a health enthusiast's utopia... it's heaven even for the non exercise enthusiast. I used to love to go to Todd's to run, walk or rollerblade. I loved most, this one spot, just around the bend... You could see the tip of Manhattan. I paused there often. Just taking in the magnificence of the city. Taking in the magnificence of my hometown. On a clear day she shone with a brilliance rivalled by none. Then again, she was rivalled by none - she was, (is) after all, Manhattan. The towers stood together, proudly, at the tip like watchdogs guarding their home. The towers were infallible... You'd know this, of course, if you ever stood inside their grand lobbies. But the Titanic, I suppose, was infallible too...

On September 11th, 2001 I was in my early 30s and living in my new home in Fairfield, Connecticut, some 30 miles east of Greenwich. I had two babies, the younger one was a mere 9 months old. I was on the phone and watching the Today Show when the first plane struck. A moment in time like no other. A moment in time that will never be forgotten. My Manhattan had been attacked. My Manhattan was forever altered. I think I was too... I think we all were.

"I'm at Todd's" a friend called to tell me. "I can see them. I can see the towers." She said nothing else. I knew what she meant. I wondered how many people - men, women and children, stood there, at Todd's Point, that day watching history... watching history crumble. I couldn't do it. I'd never want to. I have them in my memory. I have them in my mind still. Perfect. Strong. Safe. In my mind, I can remember Manhattan when I was young.

I offer my heartfelt prayers to all those who lost loved ones on September 11th, 2001. They will never be forgotten.

XOXO,

Jessica

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