As I’ve suggested as much over the eleven years I’ve been composing this blog (let alone the fifteen years since the day in question), I’ve largely run out of insightful things to say about the events of September 11, 2001. I’ve written about the death of my high school friend, Mike Armstrong, who was working at Cantor Fitzgerald the morning that first plane hit the first tower. I’ve written about how New York City has (and hasn’t) changed in various capacities. I’ve written about my reactions to how the day has been used as a political football to further the agendas of any number of dubious endeavors. By and large, I don’t think what I have to say about it is especially distinctive or unique, at this stage of the proceedings.
While my memories of the event and the days and weeks thereafter still seem entirely fresh, it’s prudent to remember that it’s been a decade and a half. I've raised two kids and changed jobs ... jesus ...four times since 9/11 (and even fifteen years later, I still hate referring to it as "9/11." Something about that really bugs me, although I'm at a loss as to articulate why).
Strangely enough, I now work pretty much directly on the site. My current office is inside part of the since re-built complex. In fact, the building I work in stands in the footprint of the epicenter of a thousand conspiracy theories -- i.e. the building the collapsed despite not having been hit by a plane.
The odd thing for me now is that I find it very hard to reconcile the neighborhood in question as I remember it, and what it's like now. Truthfully, I rarely went down to the WTC, and I only ever went to the top of the towers once -- with my friend Steve, who discovered his long-dormant, acute acrophobia the second we reached the top, forcing us to immediately come back down.
I've always been more or less versed in the topography of TriBeCa, but I rarely went south of it -- there wasn't much reason to, for me. There weren't any cool record stores, comic shops or live music venues that far down. What was the point? As such, I can't remember what the very bottom of West Broadway (where I walk every day) really looked like prior to that morning in 2001.
I do remember walking around it relatively soon after the fact. But even those images seem incompatible with the scene there now.
I haven't been inside the 9/11 museum, and I don't foresee a time I will anytime soon. I've fleetingly walked by the memorial fountains (built into the actual footprints of the towers), but have not taken the time to find my friend Mike's name carved into the marble. Maybe it's a cliché, but I'm entirely put off by the hordes of obliviously smiling tourists in their American flag t-shirts and selfie-sticks.
Again, even after this many years, it doesn't feel real.