Image from here
This is what I saw coming over the Tappan Zee Bridge last night. This is my skyline. I fell in love with its splendor and majesty when I looked at it from across the river visiting my future college home, St. John's University. I watched it change from across that river from the roof of my dorm room. I didn't watch it on television. I watched it live and in person. I cried and I dialed the cell phone numbers of friends who lived a block away at NYU and Pace University. One week into my freshman year of college and my world was shattering around me.
I don't watch the memorial on television. I avoid it on purpose. It's not that I don't want to remember. It's not that I want to forget either. The problem is I do remember and the images wake me in the night sometimes. I didn't watch it from the streets like my friend's did but I watched helplessly in the borough next door. I couldn't help them. My campus shut down and wouldn't allow anyone to leave. I couldn't run to help them.
Two months later, while coming home from visiting my friend at Pace, I walked down the streets to the nearest ACE subway. Maybe it's because it was 4AM. Maybe it's because I wanted to believe it was a dream. Maybe I had become numb to the smell of death and burnt out steel. I came to a barricade. At that moment, I didn't understand why it was there. I looked beyond it and saw the rubble. Another image I cannot erase.
I will not forget. I will remember. I will always be haunted. I hope you feel the same.
Post-Script: I know that non-New Yorkers feel the void, too. I just live in the shadow of that great big city and those lights carried me home last night. They haunt me and I need to vent.