life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, January 8, 2009

sad memory

Grandy looked at the photos I took in the World Trade Center subway station, and asked “where are all the people?” Her question brought back memories of a time when the city was virtually deserted.

Although I have spent most of my legal career with law firms and insurance companies based in NYC or across the river in Jersey City, in 2001 I was fortunate enough to have found a job with a law firm on Long Island. During that time, I did many court appearances and depositions in the city, but I wasn’t in the city on 9/11 – my friend Shlomit says I had an angel on my shoulder that day. I watched it all on television, almost as if it were happening somewhere else.

9/11 was on a Tuesday. Reality set in a few days later, on Friday September 14. By then, lower Manhattan was isolated from the rest of the city, and people were starting to struggle to find some semblance of normalcy. The courts had reopened, and one of my cases was on the docket in federal district court in Brooklyn. The courthouse, on Cadman Plaza, is within a few blocks of the Brooklyn Bridge. To get there, you take the Long Island Railroad to Flatbush Avenue, then the subway to downtown Brooklyn.

It was a rainy, foggy morning. My railroad train was half empty – so many commuters had nowhere to go, their offices in lower Manhattan were closed. As I rode through Brooklyn, I looked out the window. I wanted, really wanted, to believe that the reason I didn’t see the twin towers on the horizon was due to the fog and rain. The subway was even deserted than the railroad train had been.

I got to court, only to find that my case had been postponed.

And then I knew what I had to do.

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade runs from Remsen Street to Orange Street, along the East River. You can look across the river to lower Manhattan, or you can look out to New York Harbor and see the Statue of Liberty.

On that dreary morning the Promenade was empty. Across the river, where normally you’d see all the traffic on the FDR Drive , there was nothing save the movement of police and fire vehicles, and a huge, acrid cloud of smoke mingling with the fog and rain.

Had I planned it, I would have brought a prayer book with me, would have done more to memorialize the dead, the injured and the grieving. Since I had not, I recited the only prayer I had committed to memory:

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya-a se shalom aleinu
V’al kol yisroal
V’yimeru amen

May the One who makes peace in the High Places make peace over us and over all of humanity, and let us say “amen.”


Suzanne said...

That prayer just gave me chills. It is beautiful and appropriate.

I guess I knew it was one of the stations that has not reopened, one of the ones at the WTC site that survived the destruction.

Did you lose a friend, colleague or coworker that day, SB? Two of my classmates were at financial firms, one was a first responder.

I'm sure in your travels, it was difficult to travel over to Jersey City, to pass through the vacant stations. Still must be.

songbird's crazy world said...

I travel through ground zero every day. you know, after all this time, it's just a construction site...but when I first started commuting to Jersey. it was very difficult. one year on 9/11 I was standing on the platform on the PATH station and found myself looking directly at the memorial ceremony - the tracks are in "the Pit".

I had a lot of friends who were downtown that day and who managed to escape without physical injuries. I did know one person who died, an attorney who worked with my sister :oney in the Bronx DA's office and then joined the same firm as me. I'd only spoken to him once oe twice, just long enough to introduce myself.

and one of the secretaries in my office was married to a fire captain who was killed that day. at the wake she told us "at least I have a body to bury."

Grandy said...


I was actually afraid to ask the question, because I wasn't sure if I ignorantly read "where" you were.

You did have an angel on your shoulder. ;)

songbird's crazy world said...

yeah...after all this time the city feels almost like it did pre 9/11. the E train station -- where I took the pictures -- is crowded at rush hour, but the WTC stations for the N train and the 1 train have never reopened. they'll reopen after the construction is finished, i believe.

people actually grumble at the WTC now, it's a construction zone and it's a PITA to walk through on your way to your train. but today in the PATH station I saw that someone had left a bouquet of flowers stuck into the fence...

Jibber Jabber said...

I don't there's a New Yorker who doesn't remember where they were that fateful day. I had just given birth to my oldest daughter when Live with Regis and Kelly was interrupted with the news report.

songbird's crazy world said...

I think you are right.I found out while driving to work. I listen to Scott and Todd on PLJ. they were interviewing a man who'd seen the first plane hit. while they were talking to him...he saw the second plane hit. I think I was on autopilot after that, until I got to work and watched the rest of the day's news in the break room.

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