Remembering 9-10 2001
On Monday, September 10, 2001 I reported to Grand Jury selection on Centre Street in NYC. They were convening multiple Grand Juries, mostly for morning sessions and two for afternoons. They mentioned to us that there would be some days when we would get out early. Most of the people there wanted to get on the morning sessions, so that they could go to work in the afternoons. Along with a handful of others, I volunteered for the afternoon session.
After selection was over I decided to walk home. I lived in Chelsea at the time, so this meant walking across town and up Hudson Street, which would eventually take me up Eighth Avenue. But first I went down to J&R Music to have a look around. This put me directly across town from the World Trade Center, so I decided to walk past it on my way home. On the way home I paused beneath the great buildings and recalled the times I had been inside.
The first visit I think happened during grade school. I have vague memories of a chaperoned trip to Windows on the World. When I approached college graduation my mother took me back there. The clouds were low in the sky that day, obscuring our view of the city below. Around the same time I went to a Borders Bookstore in the basement of the twin towers to interview for a job, only to eventually get turned down. I was very disappointed.
During sophomore year of college I stayed in a dorm room with a perfect picture window view of the twin towers. I spent countless hours staring out at the buildings, remembering watching westerns on WPIX-TV during weekends at my father’s house. Station identifications would show the towers, and then superimpose the number eleven over the towers, alongside with the station logo. That year in my college dorm room I felt like I was in my father’s living room, but looking at the towers live. I watch the blinking lights on the roof as if they were sheep, waiting for them to blink in unison. Then every morning when I woke up I would watch them again.
When I turned seventeen my father told me that I was a man, and that I didn’t need him around anymore. He moved out to the Midwest to look after his ailing parents. But pretty soon our contact became sporadic. For a period of two and a half years, while I was in college, I didn’t even know how to contact him. I remember thinking then how foolish it seemed. This was the age when I needed him most. I wanted his advice but had only his memory. The towers carried me through some of those lonely nights when I struggled with the responsibility of becoming my own man without my father’s guidance.
My father did eventually find his way back into my life during in the late-mid 1990’s. My mother was throwing a summer party at her house on Long island. My girlfriend and I headed out there together. When I turned the corner into the backyard my father was standing there.
By the summer of 2001, my mother was ready to sell her house and move to the city full-time. My father came out from Ohio to help her close out the place, and pick up a few of his things which he had been storing in her basement. I was single then, and happy to hang out with my mother and a father with whom I seldom spent enough time. As we drove out to dinner on one of those nights, WCBS radio disclosed CIA reports of chatter regarding an attack on New York City. We talked about it briefly, before turning our attention back to the more pressing issue of closing up the house. We also discussed my impending jury service in just a few weeks.
Eleven years ago today, standing in the shadow of the twin towers, I considered going up to the observation deck to look out on my city. But it had been a long day. I was tired, and I had a nervous feeling that I had to go home. I looked up at the north tower and told myself that I had a whole month of grand jury duty ahead of me, and there would be plenty of time to go up to the observation deck later.
Of course, I was wrong…