The other night it was beautiful in the city — nearly 60 degrees — so after work, I decided to go for a walk. A long walk. I had no destination.
From my building on East 32nd, I walked south. I walked for three miles, until I reached the World Trade Center site. By that time it was dark, and the hustle of the day’s workers had headed home. There was a silence that suspended over the area.
The last time I visited the WTC site was in 2006. I remember a fence with flowers scattered about, and I could look down into the barren pit where the buildings once stood. Crews were at work — as I imagine they had been for five years at that point — and nothing seemed real. I remember looking around and seeing the Wall Street sign, and thinking that I was in a movie.
Even though six years have passed since my last visit, it’s still hard to see progress, and even harder to grasp the concept of a plane flying into the towers in the very air that I was looking up at. While the people around me, those workers that undoubtedly passed by the WTC grounds every day, seemed immune to the scene, I was once again struck. My mind played an imaginary tape of 9/11 as I walked the surrounding streets. The buildings that hug the block of land that once held the towers stand tall, almost protectively, like they lost two brothers.
The memorial rests on one plot; I didn’t get a chance to visit. The new WTC tower is on the rise. It’s shimmering and growing into the sky, some complete, yet quite skeletal. Pinned to a wall near the base is an American flag. There is nowhere to go but up.