Twenty-four years ago I was one of numerous (fairly) young EDSers asked to go on a temporary assignment. The assignment was located in New York City. And I spent the better part of 16 weeks going back and forth from Tower 1 to Tower 5. To be in New York City throughout the Fall and Christmas season was exciting! I felt really grateful for this assignment.
This was my mom’s city. Born and raised in Brooklyn – she loved it and shared that love with her family. I was excited to go! The work experience would be challenging, but to be in NYC…..well that was the big deal to me.
The World Trade Center is imposing. Was imposing. I was assigned to give the top executive a presentation along with the developer of the project. I loved going up in the elevator with my colleague, who was petrified of heights. I remember switching elevators to go to the top and watching him turn a shade of green that looks good on no one. But it thrilled me. I remember going in to the office of the Big Boss – our customer – a lovely spread on the 105th floor. He sent Mike back down to the other building because by the time he got up there, he was sick as a dog. But this man saw in me the energy I felt.
He showed me around his office (it was bigger than my house at the time! Wait…it might have been bigger than my current one, too!) Certain things about that day, that building, stayed with me always. I remember the building swaying with the wind. I remember the man’s confidence. And I remember his walking stick collection. His office and the artifacts in it were worth more than most people make in a lifetime. But this man worked hard for his company and appreciated his position, his possessions, his career, his office – everything. He told me so in his words and his eyes. If I were the kind who would be intimidated, I would be. Instead I respected him and all that surrounded me – especially the view. It was a clear fall day and I could see my mom’s city.
I jokingly said something about “his building” and he corrected me. “No, not my building. The city’s building.”
Twelve years later the building went down. I have no idea if he was in there. I don’t recall his name. I’m bad that way and it is 24 years ago, after all. But the city’s building was taken from the city’s people – from the world’s people. Much was lost along with the lives, the buildings, and the false sense of security most of us had.
Along with the rest of the world, I sat in my living room watching and re-watching the coverage of the horror of that day. It was a month to the day after my mom died. I sat holding my husband’s hand…crying…saying, “I’m so glad she didn’t have to see this happen to her city.”
And then my daughter, 9 at the time, said, “Mom. Bubby had to die first. Someone had to cook for all those people.” Yeah…. nothing like a child’s view to put it all in perspective.