I ♥ NY
I was 16 on September 11th, 2001. It was a new 16, and a new school year—my junior year of high school. I was in Spanish class when the first plane hit the North tower of the World Trade Center, and we watched the news coverage live, unsure at first if it was accidental or a deliberate attack. I remember thinking only of myself—as most 16-year-olds can be forgiven for doing—and how my dream of moving to New York appeared to crumble on live TV.
Of course the attacks didn't prevent me from moving, and in fact the city had more than rebounded by the time I finally did move, 11 years later. But I remember what I wore that day—a stretchy green top made from a glittery fabric (I was 16! It was 2001!) and a rainbow ribbon belt. I remember coming home from school and dramatically exclaiming to my parents, "it's World War III!" I remember working that night in the McDonald's drive-thru and noting that everyone that came through the drive thru had special, evening editions of the newspaper (remember those!) laying on their front seats.
I remember visiting New York in February of 2002—my second visit—to see the Rosie O'Donnell show, and the overwhelming grief that was still on display all over the city—on fences and in churches and in the air. I didn't know anyone in the city at the time, and most of the people I know now moved here after, like me. But I remember meeting loved ones at the airport gate, and breezing through security without having to take off my shoes. I remember campaigning in college for John Kerry, sure that he would beat George W. Bush and feeling political defeat personally for the first time, when he did not.
I remember when people referred to the under-construction World Trade Tower as the Freedom Tower, and I remember when you had to have a ticket to visit the memorial reflecting pools. I remember finally moving to New York and seeing the Welcome to New York sign at La Guardia and knowing that I was finally home. I remember the glee I felt upon realizing that I could (barely) see the Statue of Liberty from my Brooklyn apartment. I remember weeping through the 9/11 museum on opening night, and again when my dad came to visit.
I didn't lose anyone on 9/11 but all of us are changed by it. I've always loved this city—even before I visited—and it will always be my first love. I love all that has come before me, the people and places and moments that make this city a living, breathing thing. This city was my spiritual home before it was my physical one, and I am profoundly sad for all of its misery and at the same time madly hopeful for all its unbridled joy.