Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Ground Zero

So I finally went to Ground Zero this weekend. I had thought that I had let a sufficient amount of time pass since September 11 to mitigate the awfulness of that visit. It didn't work as well as I hoped.

I was surprised how close we could get to the wreckage. At some points we were only about two blocks away. I was also surprised at how it just, well, sneaks up on you. We got out of the Wall Street 4/5 subway stop near Trinity Church, and could see crowds of people along Broadway gathered at each intersection. So it wasn't so much a surprise in that you knew you were about to see something when you got close to the crowds.

I think I was at Liberty Street when I first saw the wreckage up close. I believe it was what was left of 4 WTC, but it could have been the South Tower. What I do know was that it was a brown, twisted, burned out, massive piece of destruction. It was the visual manifestation of Violence, if that makes any sense at all. You look at it, and that's the only word that comes to mind, repeating itself over and over. Violence, Violence, Violence. It's breathtaking. Jeffrey said I had a visible physical reaction, that I recoiled upon first seeing it. It was one of the few times during this whole thing that I wanted to cry. I guess my Shepherdian revulsion of crying in public won out, because I didn't.

We also saw 5 WTC, where my roommate Christine worked until September 10. It's still standing, but it's not worth much as a building now. It too is burned out and devoid of most of its exterior. They'll have to tear it down. The sign from the Borders bookstore is still in the blown-out window.

We got ourselves good and lost while down there, as any sense of geography that Jeffrey and I had of the area isn't worth much of anything now. So we spent two hours or so there. If you're planning a trip there, I wouldn't recommend staying that long. You don't need to. Walk down Broadway, maybe down Rector. Maybe take a picture or two (yes, it feels morbid and tasteless to snap photos, but I figured that 20 years down the line, I'll have something poignant and real to show the progeny). Then go home.

It occurs to me that anyone reading these Updates would think I'm completely obsessed with death and destruction. I do think about other things. Today I spent a lovely sick day reading for class, watching Jeopardy! and perusing silly rock-band websites.

Of course, the book I was reading was Hiroshima, but I suppose that can't be helped.