Monday, June 16, 2008

Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Huddles Masses Yearning for Benches and Foot Massages

We go back home tomorrow. I have officially survived New York. I think I've walked more than a hundred miles these past few days. And that doesn't count all the hours I had to stand on the bus and the subway and the ferries. My feet may never be the same!

We came amid fierce thunder and lightening storms and Brooklyn was hit by flash flooding and wind blew down power lines and uprooted huge trees, so we felt right at home!

We've spent much of our time praying the rain will hold off, and our timing has been very blessed. It poured only once on Sunday, right when we were standing under the overhang of the South Ferry subway stop, and we rode out the storm there. Today every time it rained we happened to be inside somewhere, and when we came out it stopped. All the same, it has been incredibly overcast and grey, and the haze is hanging so low the visibility is nil. Great for walking around and not sweating. Terrible for photographic shots of the city. Most of my landscape photos are a fuzzy gray with indistinct building. Even with a great camera, you can't take fantastic pictures of something that isn't there.

Of course, there were plenty of puddles. So here is the city the way we saw it most often:

It's been a roller coaster emotion trip. I haven't been back here since 9/11 and I get very sad just looking at the city from across the water and thinking, "What skyline is this, because it's not New York." I miss those twin towers. I have a lot of memories there, and even when I get away from the ugly hole in the ground, I can't get away with the lack of them... wherever you are in the city you notice they aren't there.

I do love the American flags though. I don't remember whether or not it was like this before. I suppose that's one of those things you take for granted and just stop seeing, but now I notice. Some cities are all up in arms about the Iraq war, and very anti-Bush, and anti-government. Here, it is still very pro-America.

We ate in a deli right next to ground zero today, which had been remodeled since the towers fell and essentially blasted out the adjoining buildings. A fireman from Ladder Company 10 directly across from ground zero recommended it, so how could we go wrong? In the days immediately after, the restaurant was turned into a medical facility for the rescue workers. Today, the makeshift "medical service" sign spray painted on scrap wood hangs prominently in the deli, along with photos of people that died, letters from businesses in the world trade towers, photos of the wreckage as seen through the doors of the deli, and memorabilia from the rescue workers who came and used the restaurant during that time. It felt almost sacred eating there.

I'll not be sad to leave though. It seems as though people who live in New York breathe the city. It is in their blood and they would never dream of living anywhere else. Me? I think I'd have a heart attack after a year or two. It moves so fast! I'm not that much a country girl, but man it seems frenetic here! And my feet are about to fall off. And it is so noisy.

I never made it to the literary agencies. I planned on stopping by a few office buildings just to see where they were, to get a mental picture of where my book might end up. And maybe take a picture. In a really not-stalkerish kind of way. But I never made it. Too much to do, and after more than forty blocks of walking on Sunday there was no way I was cramming my size six feet into four inch red heels.

So in the end it was a purely family vacation. I did do some writing at night when everyone else was asleep, but for the most part, it's been a vacation from that part of my life too. All fun, but I'll be glad to get back to home and the writing and catching up with my writing groups. I think this time away has stirred some ideas and I am ready to go!


  1. That is so great! I love NYC, the urge to be moving really infects a body there. We were just there in March and didn't want to leave. ;)

    Your writing groups are looking forward to having you back! :))

  2. I was going to ask if you were wearing those red shoes for all that walking!

    I love that deli and the stories that go with it. It sounds like a really positive way to remember what happened. It's hard to move on after something so horrific, but I get the feeling it's a city that has to move. (See Jkb's comment!!)

    I'm kind of afraid of NYC. Jethro wants to take me there someday and I told him I'll only go if he holds my hand and babysits me and steers me through the crowd and gets me the heck out of there after two days!!!! (If I last that long!)

    So whenever you're ready, come on back to your writing groups OK?

  3. It was scary. It wasn't fifteen years ago, before kids, when I was happy to move fast and blend in. Herding a whole family through the crowds, though, is entirely different. My five year old just couldn't move fast enough, and I was so afraid we'd lose her!

    Also, I know there are kids and families in the city, but we didn't see one! No kids the entire time. How weird is that? Except the field trip group at the statue of liberty. But downtown? None.

    I missed ambling. I'm going to amble a lot this week. And not complain about our traffic.

    I love leaving on vacations. I love even better coming home!