Moving to New York is this whole process. First, you admit that you want to go. Then, you look at your bank account and weep. Then, you make plans.
During my process, Smyres took me to see the World Trade Center. We’d spent a day tooling around Brooklyn looking at neighborhoods and discussing options. We’d walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. She asked me where I wanted to go.
“I’m embarrassed to say this,” I told her, “But I’ve never seen, er, Ground Zero. And I think I should.”
She nodded. “OK, then. You should see it. We’ll go.”
A month ago, my friends Isaac and Cathy had a final going away party for me, and a bunch of people showed up. One of them, a good friend and also, coincidentally, an ex-boyfriend of mine, Rod, said, “Well, have a good time. You know, until they blow the place up again.”
I thought about removing his eyes.
Smyres and I went to the former site of the World Trade Center on foot. We passed businesspeople and homeless people and tourists. We saw a million restaurants serving food I’d never eaten, and businesses I’d only heard about from the news. People carried shopping bags and briefcases and babies. Only a few people looked around, like I did, trained their noses to the air for whiff of asbestos and airplane fuel and death.
“This is it,” Smyres said, gesturing through the fence. “The trains run right through it now. You can see where the foundation used to be. There’s still a lot of construction, but it’s further along even than it was a month ago.”
When the World Trade Center blew up, I was 25 years old. I was working in Boston. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. New York was a place I’d been to a couple times, and frankly, I didn’t like it. I wanted to live in a clean place that I knew, where things weren’t strange to me.
Four years later, I looked into the hole the terrorists and workmen left and said to my friend, “It’s like the city is healing itself. It looks like the rim of a scab.”
And Smyres said, “Yes, it looks like that.”
A thousand years from now, New York will be here, like Rome, like Paris, like monuments and literature. I looked into the hole and I wanted to fight. I wanted these people to be my neighbors. I wanted this place, these people, to be my home.