September 11th

Just a few days ago I was apartment sitting in Williamsburg. That’s hipster central of Brooklyn. It really is a great area for having lots going on so when I make fun of it, that’s only because I’m jealous I don’t live there.

I was staying at the same place I lived when I first came to New York. It’s on the fourth floor and it has a view of Manhattan. To the North/Northwest is the Empire State Building. To the West is One World Trade Center, the building located on the site of the Twin World Trade Center Towers. I saw its progress as it grew taller in January and February, and looking now, it appeared to be at its full height, and only the interior of the upper one quarter of the building needs to be finished.

As I stared in the late afternoon, I suddenly realized it was only a few days from the notorious anniversary that profoundly affected New York, shook the nation, and shocked the world. In my lifetime, it’s the major event we all remember and it changed the way we have lived ever since. It became the reason we have fought wars in two countries. It changed the way we fly on airplanes and are expected to behave in public. It changed the way we value our freedom, define our freedom, and defend our freedom. The world may have always been a dangerous place, but we were no longer allowed to be ignorant to that.

Today has been 11 years since I woke up to a phone call telling me to turn on my television. I was living in Los Angeles and it was still early on the West Coast. I watched in disbelief and spent the next couple of days in shock as LAX grounded all flights and commerce in my city 3000 miles from the tragedy seemed to come to a halt.

Just two years earlier I was in New York for my friend’s wedding on September 11th. I only know this now because I was reminded of this a few years after the event. At the time it was lots of fun as the West Coast college friends came to support their friend and celebrate in the Big Apple. One of the events of the wedding day was a booze cruise around Manhattan and at one point another friend and myself posed for a picture in front of the Manhattan skyline with the Twin Towers centered behind us. I didn’t even see it developed (yes pre-digital) until almost four or five years later, which made it seem very nostalgic.

Now there is a new tower nearing the final stages of completion. It’s a positive sign that even though tragedy can occur in many ways, people can begin the process of rebuilding and healing that is necessary to go on with life. I didn’t lose anyone in the 9/11 attacks, but many people did. To see the city now, it’s vibrant and growing. Areas are changing, neighborhoods being revitalized, rents going up, tons of people to compete with. New York didn’t become a ghost town.

That’s all we can do as survivors, keep moving forward. We live in an imperfect world, and the eleven years since that time have offered new challenges, but many good things have happened too.

I enjoyed the view for at least an hour as the sun set. And during that time I took pictures of the new tower. Not the greatest, having only an iphone camera, but it showed the change over from sun reflecting off the glass to the lights inside the tower illuminating it at night.

For the first picture I enjoyed the effect the cranes on top of the building made as I faced the building at a perfect angle so they appeared to form a helmet with wings, making me picture the tower as a Valkyrie, to guide the souls of the dead to Valhalla. Enjoy the rest of the progression, and honor the lives lost that day.

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