My first night in Manhattan, I fall asleep to voices that never stop talking. Outside my window is a scar, and within it are images of death juxtaposed with my memories of being twenty-two and working in the city for the first time, memories like discovering Century 21, my first interview outfit, tweed trousers and a brown blazer, and the camera I bought over at J & R. I go to bed thinking about the scar I am sleeping over. I can’t stop thinking about the husbands and the wives, each and every one someone else’s child. I can’t stop thinking about the lives lost that will never know what America did, what we have done, in their name. I can’t stop thinking about Felicia. Felicia is sleeping inside, next to the big lights and the crane. I wake up angry.
It’s eight in the morning and no one is up. The scar is an opening in the sky, brand new unfamiliar light that shakes me out of my slumber and politely asks that I never forget that something better is always possible. Peace will never be won by force, if only we could remember that. Peace will come out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds. Gandhi said that. Remember? The daylight forces me out of bed to do my part, even if it is a Sunday morning and it’s cold outside.
Around the Starbucks one block up from the scar is a neighborhood full of residents I can’t remember seeing before. There is a building on Broadway with dust filled cracks on its side. The dust reminds me again that I am sitting in a graveyard. I am not quite sure how I got here.
I am still thinking about Felicia. I see her flying outside the window. I see where the buildings fell and watch their inward trajectory over and over in my mind. Spacing out, I choreograph her fall differently. I imagine Felicia with the good sense to have kept a parachute in her desk up on the 102nd floor that she pulls just in time to drop safely back onto earth. I used to get dizzy riding up to the top and felt disoriented so high in the sky. After a trip to the top, I had to rest in the sanctuary I’d discovered within the solarium below. We used to think the towers were ugly. Sitting on a bench in Brooklyn Heights, I would try to imagine the skyline without this eyesore.
I feel like there are more mothers in Manhattan. More mothers not working, pushing strollers around the city. I wonder if they are widows. I wonder if this is a new life they’ve reconfigured after September 11th. I wonder if any of the five, six, and seven year olds bundled for the cold are fatherless.
“Excuse me,” a tourist asks, subway map in hand. “Can you
tell me where the Memorial Park is?”
“What memorial park?” I ask.
“You know…Ground Zero?”