For years, this is what I saw instead of the World Trade Center. Yes, it is a fence around stalled construction, because nothing is really happening at the World Trade Center.
I’m sure this could be considered totally normal progress in some places. For instance, the pyramids probably took a few years.
But this is New York. Things move at a pace that makes the rest of the world almost difficult to handle sometimes. (Seriously, could you order and move to the side already?)
So, frankly, the World Trade Center is a sensitive topic for reasons beyond its destruction. Like, we can’t let go and move forward without lots of arguments about the appropriate emotional weight attached to architectural plans. It’s kinda … embarrassing.
And then there are the tourists. We get offended when a family of four from Kenosha gawks through the diamonds of chain link. Those who see it regularly walk past it quickly, the way we walk everywhere else, on our way to the E train or Century 21 or New Jersey. We walk more slowly past St Paul’s graveyard down the street than we do past the World Trade Center.
Yesterday, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, a man with dark blue eyes and a gray-speckled beard over a square chin and no jawline told me he was excited to see the site on TV today for the anniversary.
“There’s nothing there. It’s a construction site.”
“It’s a construction site. There’s nothing to see.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just that there’s no, you know, building there. It’s a fence.”
“Awwwww, man, what? They been telling us they’re working on it.”
“Yeah, I guess they are. It’s all just really sad.”
He stopped and dropped his chin in his lawn chair and looked back up at me, leaning against a tent pole.
“Well, I was really hopin’ to see something there.”
I smiled. “Me, too, man.”
“Maybe by the time I get up there,” he said, smiling back, and I flooded with gratitude because he taught me, with just a few sentences, that it is quite foolish and selfish to be offended by the family of four, the peering Midwesterners who buy t-shirts in Chinatown. We all want the same thing. We’d all just like America to heal.
We knocked cups and drank whiskey until it was time to go eat again.