.

 

The Day

Almost like any other.

I stopped at a drugstore and they were playing a John Wayne speech on the radio, backed with some drums and guitar. Then I went to help my friend leave her apartment. The movers had been there and there wasn't much left, just a few boxes. The boxes were heavy and it felt good to lift them, stepping slowly down all 4 flights of stairs. The car service told us the boxes wouldn't fit in the car, but they did, and I waved goodbye to my friend. I'll come back, she said through the half-open window. But come visit! I said I would. She and her cat, secure in his carry-bag, left for the west coast. People on the street wore a variety of ribbons in white, and in red and blue.

I felt lousy and tired. I walked towards Rockefeller Center. A man was playing bagpipes on 48th St between 9th and 8th. Many people looked somber. French teenagers took pictures of the skyscrapers. People in dark suits were hugging for long minutes. Men were selling commemorative booklets. Others were talking about deals on their cell phones, talking into space, the little earpieces sprouting a wire. Some trees were tied with ribbons and decorations. A motorcycle had a piece of paper in the windshield, “Please do not give me a ticket I am at a memorial service.” The police blocked off part of 8th Avenue for no obvious reason.

At 6th Ave I found they'd closed the McGraw-Hill bookstore. On June 14. And they'd closed the Dover Books Bookstore a few months back, as well. And Coliseum before that. And of course the Borders, which was destroyed when the towers fell, I forgot about that. I went a few blocks more to the Barnes & Noble. I hate giving them my money, but I was too lazy to support my independent bookseller.

I bought two GRE-prep books. I ate a sandwich, and got the train home, reading the books and remembering basic algebra. I picked up a newspaper from the seat beside me, The New York Post. It had an image of the World Trade Center reflected in the Statue of Liberty's eyes, with tears running down her face. It was the most maudlin thing I'd ever seen, and I laughed. It was a fantastically windy day, and the grit from the streets kept coming into my eyes and onto my face.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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