Well days two and three in New York – Saturday and Sunday – mmm yeah. Sometimes you know yourself well and to be honest I had misgivings about how I’d like New York. So in fact, putting a positive spin enabled by being back home in Australia now, it was actually better than I expected! I even really seriously enjoyed two bits! OMG, three! But I’m getting ahead.
Saturday morning I decided to walk along the Hudson River from the hotel toward the Staten Island Ferry with the aim of getting to see the Statue of Liberty. She had been strongly in my mind and I wanted to get closer, to understand my response. So off I set, along a really nice riverside park way full of joggers and families, walkers, waffles. Mmm the waffles were hot and the eye candy sweet. It was a cool cloudy start but I could see the clouds were blowing away and the forecast was for a fine day. I was feeling positive.
I think that tall box at the end of the two piers is the top of the ventilator shaft for the Holland Tunnel. I liked its style. And while most of my photographs are of older architecture there’s some really funky design in Manhattan which I also really liked, even if that grey building would have been clearer to you without the two white vehicles in front. But really the modern architecture managed to be really stylish and not garish.
I wasn’t sure even on that morning if I was going to go into the 911 Memorial site. I find sites of national mourning to be depressing and full of a sense of hopelessness – I will never go back to the grassy knoll – so I wasn’t sure. But the site was between me and the Ferry so I thought I would see how I felt. I actually arrived before I realised.
That shiny beauty is the new One World Trade Centre tower. There was a massive line for people going inside and since I’ve become averse to going in on this trip I stayed away and wandered. I guess there was an observation level. But I just wandered among the trees which I seem to have missed photographing. I was busy looking up for the first while.
How to describe the site? As I said the beautiful shiny building with the cut off edges is the One World Trade Centre. The incredible white building that looks like an Angel or a peace dove or an amazing white solar-wind-powered space ship, any of which had either just landed or were poised for flight, that’s the Oculus. Apparently she’s a shopping mall and transportation hub / entry to the subway! Well she’s not well signposted because I missed that. I prefer to think of her as a symbol of peace resting lightly, albeit in a cramped spot. The dopey bus guide the next night said that locals complain that there are too many commercial buildings on the site since at the end there will be 5 towers. I think I agree, I’d like the Oculus to have more space for her wings.
So the void pools – totally amazingly brilliantly appropriate. Feats of detailed precise engineering. Hallowed space. In the places of the two collapsed towers are these huge black marble squares. Water falls over infinity edges with incredible accuracy to form a white rim line of spray at the base. In the middle of each is a further black marble infinity void. No matter where you stand you cannot see the bottom. And it is as though as the water falls away into the centre of the earth it carries away all the grief, the hatred and anger that could so poison the memory of so much death and loss. The victims must have been terrified knowing they were going to die. But there are no victims here. There is no space for revenge or despair, it is sucked and cleaned and washed away.
It didn’t feel empty, because what flows back out on the breeze that flows up from the voids is sacrifice and a realisation of the fragile brilliance of life. The spirits of those who died, particularly those who died trying to save others, just seem to rise like incense. And its an incense that enervates, it is the scent of encouragement to live. To live the life that those heroes died believing was so precious. To value life, to nurture it, to be alive in every moment because it’s so crystal perfect, valuable and tremblingly amazingly precious that it’s worth dying to save.
The 911 voids were the only place in NYC where I felt my soul come back to me with hope.
I have never understood the emotional attachment some people feel to war memorials, worlds of sacrifice that we might life free. I’m still not sure if I will ever feel them, but I understand men and women rushing into burning collapsing buildings to save life, because every life is so precious, even at the expense of their own. Tremulously, fabulously human, and yet more.
And around the top, engraved in the black marble are the names of those who died. Warm, almost pulsing in the sun.
Feeling really encouraged by the human spirit I kept on toward Lady Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry which was great fun. Would have liked some rough weather for waves, but you can’t have everything and the sun was brilliantly warming in all the right cockles of my heart.
The reason for choosing the ferry? It’s free. And there’s no commentary.
Love that Lady.
Some of you will roll your eyes at “another feminist rave” (get over it), it just seemed so profound to me that the symbol of all that is so good about America, the sight that welcomed so many migrants, is a woman. A woman who stands alone. Proud. Proclaiming truth. Crying Freedom. Vibrant, strong, indomitable, she stands against anything that might come. And after they’ve gone, she will still be there, a woman proclaiming Liberty.
She holds aloft a torch of enlightenment in a world so in need of enlightened thinking and leadership. Of collaboration and compassion. There is nothing about her that denies that she is 100% woman. The stuff of heroes. Something to inspire any girl to be all she can be. I knew why I’d wanted to meet her, here on the waters. In the air. Away from the press and strictures and phalluses (phalli?) of Manhattan. And I’m glad that copper oxidises green.
I chose to get off on Staten Island and sit for a bit.
You know I’m enjoying this day much more sitting here writing about it!
Off the Ferry back in Manhattan it was time to walk back to the hotel. Maybe I should have learned how to use the subway because it was a more than 20,000 step day and I was knackered by the time I got back to eat. And then I made a poor food choice. So yep, really tired. This is what I looked at as I drugged my way back.
I liked this flag sign, and believe me I was trying.
So, Sunday. I decided not to walk so much lol. So I booked a ticket on a hop-on-hop-off bus that had a stop just off the High Line. A high point: The High Line Thought I’d find the bus stop easily. I mean they’re big bright double decker busses. Well 2 hours and 7,000 steps later I fell onto the frelling bus. I was not a happy camper. I got off in Times Square (which is not square) and really I don’t usually get upset by crowds, but it was all too too too, just too. So exhausted and hungry and cold I sat on the top of the bus as the wheels went round and round, and listened to the inane commentary for far too long.
That is one of my fake-it-till-you-make-it smiles.
I did like this next building. According to bozo holding the bus microphone, the bottom was built before the Wall St crash of the Great Depression era, and the top only added 80 years later. I think they did well.
The wheels on the bus went round some more and bozo kept talking like a clown. West Side, Central Park, Harlem, back to 5th Avenue.
In hope I got off the bus at The Met. But it was insane and I just couldn’t face the queue for a ticket. Didn’t even buy anything in the shop. And yes, this is another fake-it-till-you-make-it smile.
I walked into Central Park and did manage to breathe. Found myself a snack and sat surrounded by green and tried to talk myself down from the panic and funk I was feeling.
I knew I didn’t have the strength to walk from there back to the hotel. And so with internal fortitude I went in search of the damn hop-on-hop-off bus to try to get back closer to home. Didn’t realise I was near Tiffany’s to go take a selfie, I just queued for the bus, got on and sat. Oh dear goddess. This bus twit insisted on making Trump and Clinton jokes, the same ones over and over. I should have jumped off at the 911 site for the 7pm colored lights, but I was numb.
Eventually, in the dark, we got back to the High Line and I exited the bus. Twit glared. Well, he did say earlier on that if you didn’t like his commentary not to tip.
My final fatal error of the day was my dinner selection, and so I was up at 230 as New York rejected me.