Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Day 2 - Unexpected

Day 2 - Above Fulton Station. Tribeca, Manhattan. Wandering around with my SLR.

I go to St.Paul's Chapel in New York City on Lauren's recommendation. It is not what I expect. It is neither as small, nor as dark as I imagined; in fact, it may be the prettiest church I've ever seen. On the inside, at least. It is painted pale pink and baby blue and white and gold. It looks like a doll house. The only indication that this is not the product of a little girl's imagination is the way the crystal chandeliers quake as the subways rumble through Fulton Station below street level.


I pay 3$ to light a candle - the only one left until, as though it's been waiting for me. I'm not sure who I'm lighting it for.

* * * * * * *

I fly across the continent only to find myself staring at a familiar sight: cranes and a massive hole in the ground. This hole in the ground is different though. This hole isn't like the one in Granville Street in Vancouver; the result of construction for the impending Olympic Games. This hole wasn't deliberate. This is Ground Zero.


I try to imagine an airplane. The Towers. The smoke. The confusion. The panic. When I really begin to allow myself, I can feel it, an echo of that day imprinted on the street corner, as though thousands of ghosts stand vigil in this spot waiting to tell us how it felt to die that day.


I am unexpectedly moved.

7 comments:

Jessclub7 said...

I went to the chapel the first time I went to NYC.

I can be quite a dispassionate person but I found it really moving. That people who had never met before or had any kind of connection beyond the fact that they were New Yorkers would go to such lengths to help others was something pretty amazing.

lauren said...

It sounds like you're having a good trip, even with the unexpected feelings Ground Zero and St. Paul's seem to bring. :-)

mer said...

yeah, I was surprised by the contrast between the pink-girliness of the actual decor and how much it played the part of a foil to the primary coloured banners and the 9/11 commemorative plaques, et c.

i was even more surprised to be moved by going to ground zero. i sat across the street on the steps of some building and just stared at it for ages. i didn't expect it to get to me, but it did. Obviously I don't feel some increased patriotism or the need for revenge or anything like that, but I was shocked by how haunted it felt. Not in the drag-chains-around-an-old-house way, but it felt like the presence of all those people is still THERE. Like their waiting for people to come visit and pay their respects. I'm kind of glad they're building a memorial there.

Val said...

One time, a few years after the OKC bombing of the Murrah federal building, I flew in to the city for a visit, and flew over the site of where the building was...it is an indescribable feeling of, you're right on, hauntedness...

Val said...

One time, a few years after the OKC bombing of the Murrah federal building, I flew in to the city for a visit, and flew over the site of where the building was...it is an indescribable feeling of, you're right on, hauntedness...

Lauren said...

I've been to Ground Zero a few times, and the sheer massiveness of the hole leaves me awestruck.

The site of the Flight 93 crash is what got to me more than Ground Zero, maybe because of it's proximity to home (Shanksville is about an hour's drive from my house) and because I spent a weekend every autumn throughout my childhood visiting Hidden Valley (a ski resort about 10 minutes away from the crash site). And it's out in the middle of nowhere, without the hustle and bustle of the city surrounding it, so it's much easier to get lost in your imagination and recall events of that day. I felt like the people were still there too.

mer said...

@ Lauren - I can't even imagine. my mind runs away with me - it doesn't need encouragement. United 93, incidentally, is one of my favourite films.