I went yesterday to the 9/11 Memorial with by husband, who at the time of the attacks worked two blocks down from the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks. I was the one who pushed for us to go to the memorial, he didn’t seem too enthusiastic about the trip. I was a bit apprehensive about his reaction, I experienced 9/11 in a very different way than he had – on tv, in the safety of my living room, and it worried me that the experience might be a bit too raw for him. He assured that although it wasn’t something he himself would think to do, he had no problems going.
It was chilly, windy, and overcast in New York yesterday. I felt underdressed for the weather. When we arrived we were ushered into a line, showing a bunch of different security personnel our reserved tickets (they are free, but need to be reserved in advance). The line leads to an indoor security area where your bag/coat and anything metal goes through a baggage screener. Once you pass this area you are on your way to the memorial. Although you can see it at first, because it’s blocked off by the tarp, what surrounds the area is a large construction site which is a strange, yet appropriate juxtaposition.
The memorial itself is set in a plaza filled with trees. There are two waterfall/reflecting pools, each is about an acre in size and are set where the North and the South towers used to be. Each reflecting pools is a negation of the two huge towers that used to stand there. The first thing I noticed is that when you come to the rim of the pool, you cannot see completely inside. The structure is too enormous to see in its entirety, a perfect experience for the tragedy that occurred that day. The pool (s) is gorgeous, with the black granite offsetting the many stream of water flowing down. It is both meditative and reminds one of the things falling/collapsing (the waterfall effect of the water) and the tears that so many have shed because of the assholes who decided to murder innocent people that day. Since it was so windy yesterday, the even flow of many streams was disrupted by the wind. I’m not sure it was intentional, but the effect it had one me was of the water resembling fire. The wind making the water woosh up and down just like the flames of a fire. Another image invoking the fires that burned for months at the site.
My husband saw the name of a woman who was a client of his; she was only a year older than him. He could have been so easily gone that day, just like her, it was wonderful and incredibly sad moment. People around us had a variety of experiences. Some were somber, others cried, however most smiled and took photos. I’m usually a maniac when comes to taking pictures, I didn’t feel like taking any at the time. I’m not begrudging people who took it as a tourist experience and posed happily for the camera, but my mood was drastically different. 9/11 felt too immediate right there and then to smile and ham it up for the cameras.