My trip to New York City was a gift from my husband. I always wanted to visit New York. My husband, not so much, so he had a brilliant idea to call his sister, who goes to NYC every year with her daughter and her best friend, to ask her if I could go with them. The answer was yes!
Soon after, September 11, 2001 happened and the whole world changed. I didn’t know if I wanted to go. I was scared. Sad. Disappointed. I was confused about how I’d handle what I was about to see. It would be nothing like what New York is supposed to be.
The red-eye flight arrived in NYC mid-morning. From that point forward, time stood still.
My first mind-numbing vision was that of steel bones poking through barren ground and the steamy rubble of destruction piled up and around it like a hideous crutch.
I saw the pain in the eyes of the people I spoke with in New York City, but mostly, I saw warm and generous hearts that bled for loved ones, friends, and unfamiliars/strangers.
I’m not talking cliché when I say that we, the tourists in New York City, three weeks after 9/11, were welcomed with open arms. Not only that, gracious and grateful words were on every tongue.
I bought an “I ♥ New York” t-shirt in the Theater District, two sketch prints from a street vendor in Central Park, and a picture frame from a gift shop in Rockefeller Center. Those things are meaningless to me now.
What I remember and cherish about my one-and-only trip to New York City is the brute force will to survive that New Yorkers are known for. The spirit of New York is what I took home as my keepsake.