Daily Archives: September 11, 2009

Eight years

So I don’t really feel like dredging up all the old emotions I’ve felt by writing about 9/11 in the past, today on the 8th anniversary. I can’t believe its been eight years; it seems like it’s been not nearly as long, and also way longer than that, if you know what I mean.

Everybody deals with this terrible day in their own way. Some people, like me, take time to watch old footage and think about the day; others want to ignore it and treat it like any other day.

So here, I’ll simply reprint an essay I wrote three years ago for the Daytona Beach News-Journal, on the 5th anniversary of the day that changed the world forever:

Despite post-Sept.11 changes, the heart of my N.Y. goes on


September 11, 2006

Everybody talks about Sept. 11, 2001 being the scariest day of their life.

To a New Yorker like myself, Sept. 12 was almost as frightening.

I was living in New York then, working for a basketball magazine in Manhattan.

The day after the world changed forever, I took my usual 8:46 a.m. train into work. I had about a 10-minute walk from Penn Station to my office.

That morning, it felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life.

The streets and avenues were cemetery silent. The usual cacophony of bleating taxi horns, vendors hawking “authentic” souvenirs, and commuters loudly complaining on their cell phones was absent.

I could hear my footsteps on the sidewalk. The wind was blowing ever so slightly, and you could hear that, too.

My favorite thing about New York City was always how alive it felt. Ten things were happening at once at all times, on every corner. New York City was a place I felt in my bones, in my blood, in the water mains exploding and the subways derailing and the tabloids screaming for somebody to be fired.

Now, on Sept. 12, 2001, all I could think of on my walk was how these boulevards felt like any other city, in any other state.

It could’ve been Dubuque. Or Minneapolis. Or Daytona Beach.

It was an awful, empty feeling. It may have been the first time I ever felt sorry for New York City. And watching TV that day and over the next few days, it seemed like pity was being heaped on New York like an extra spoonful of marinara on some linguini.

We don’t want your pity, I felt like yelling at Brokaw and Rather. We’re New York! We’ve got the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden and Central Park!

Soon, though, the pity turned to empathy, and New York City regained its bearings.

Over the next several days, the beautiful noise returned, slowly but surely. People became impatient with each other again, and World Trade Center-related paraphernalia was sold like always in the myriad of souvenir shops.

And a bizarre new strain of window-shopping took place at Penn Station: Every day, thousands of New Yorkers like myself stopped to stare at the fliers of missing persons, hoping against hope we wouldn’t recognize the eyes looking back at us.

We New Yorkers like to think of ourselves as shoe-leather tough: Nothing or nobody can ever keep us down.

And so it was true of Sept. 11: Two airplanes that killed almost 3,000 people dealt a severe blow to our collective solar plexus, but our wind and energy would return.

When I return home to New York City now, I don’t notice many changes from the pre-Sept. 11 world.

I wish I could tell you that New Yorkers came together forever as one after that horrible day, and the little concerns like construction on the George Washington Bridge weren’t so important as they had been before.

But that didn’t happen. Nothing can make New Yorkers change their ways for long.

All that’s missing are two towers that had always been a part of the city’s tapestry.

With or without the Twin Towers, New York goes on as the best city in the world.

And the sounds of the street are once again always in my ears.