A New York Moment
The uniforms are still in force, with police on every corner. At one point, of course, state troopers were here and the army reserves. They looked less like an occupying army than a large group of tourists who all happen to dress alike.
The firehouses are now shrines to the fallen; flowers, candles, photos and signs displayed out front. The notes and pictures from school children around the country are taped to the walls, the overhead beams, the outside doors. Slowly, the firehouses are coming back to full force but many rig bays are empty as they await replacements for the equipment lost.
With the return of routine comes the return of the routine. Tasks which were deemed necessary at one point seemed seem less so after the attacks. The legendary "New York minute" was about a minute and a half. But in the last few months, "necessary" seems necessary again. But if you get too much into a normal activity, you'll suddenly remember, "two of the world's tallest buildings used to be right over there." And now they're not. What could those clerks, those secretaries, those merchants have done to be the target of such blind
hatred? Nothing. Not a thing.
But the city is getting its footing back. You know this because the sidewalk vendors are back in force. The little Asian ladies are out; selling flags and pins instead of umbrellas. There's a black guy, next to the bootleg video guy, selling postcards and pictures of the twin towers and
flags. He has flags. At one point, flags were a near-impossible-to-find item in the city. But the sidewalk guys had them.
Oddly, no one finds this ghoulish or crass. It's what New York does...every baseball play-off and series; they're out there with their Yankee shirts and Met caps. When New York
had its subway series it was like a long block party as the dealers hit the streets with their wares. Football, hockey, even the Olympics, the vendors are there. New Year's Eve they
were there with the eyeglasses shaped like the year and the explosive poppers. They mark the seasons and the events of the city. And this is the biggest event of all.
So as New Yorkers continue to get a grip on the situation, it seems natural that they'll buy the T-shirt or get the ribbon pin to mark it. And with a debate looming over how to exactly
memorialize the tragedy, buying a FDNY baseball cap seems the easiest thing to do.
And the tourists are returning. They seemed awed. Even relieved to see the rest of the city still here. They are joyful that they are getting a chance to see the city before something else happens to it. Also returning, those people who walk around the city with these little wheeled suitcases and two-wheel hand carts. They scurry along the sidewalks with an unimaginable number of personal possessions tailing behind. Personally, it's my belief that if you need to travel with that much stuff, maybe you shouldn't be leaving your home in the first place.
A big stop for them is the Ground Zero viewing ramp. A large ramp was build across the street which would allow viewing of the site formerly know as the World Trade Center. It proved
so popular, that tickets are now necessary to attempt to control the crowds that line up. Is it ghoulish? Hard to say. People travel to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial, or the grave sites at Normandy. It seems necessary, somehow.
The sorrow is not far from the surface. You just have to watch the flatbed trucks drive downtown with the twisted beams of the WTC heading for the barge to feel your stomach tighten. Or the latest announcement regarding more recovered bodies. But shock is passing and people are getting back to the business of living.
We wish them well.