Saturday, September 11, 2010

Windows on the World.

Normally Saturday mornings are reserved for catching up with magazines and my couch, so it's not as if I would have turned on the TV anyway, but I really wasn't going to turn it on this weekend.

Still, Sept. 11 found me. I picked up my New Yorker and there was the profile of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, conveying all his vainglorious, devastating awfulness. Outside, there was the blue, newly cool sky, almost (but not quite) as clear as it was on the day that acrid, dark smoke blew across it in such a way that I could never look at a vivid September day the same way again (is it possible to gain a sense memory of a very particular set of weather conditions?). There was my mom noting what I know but never manage to fully absorb: that Sept. 11 was always a marked day for her, because it is her beloved, departed father's birthday. And there was a matchbox I found while rummaging through stuff at my parents'.

The first time I went to New York, at age 13, was a surprise. We had gone on a cruise for a family vacation, and my dad notified us that we were staying an extra day in the city where we'd docked. For us Potomac kids, it was EXCITING. We ate dinner at Maxwell's Plum (I saved the psychedelic balloon that was tied to the back of my chair) and watched the rollerskaters and break-dancers in Central Park. That's about all I remember from the visit, and it was enough: I definitely wanted to live in New York City when I grew up.

For my 16th birthday, my parents generously offered to take me on a short trip somewhere. I chose, of course, New York. We stayed in a tiny, stuffy room, but I didn't care, because the room was at the Plaza. We rode in a hansom cab, visited Trump Tower and Tiffany (it was the '80s, OK?), had dinner at Tavern on the Green, saw a revival of 42nd Street on Broadway, and had drinks (non-alc for me, natch) at Windows on the World at the World Trade Center.

It was the best 16th birthday I could ask for. I saved the matchbox from Windows on the World, where it sat in a tin for years and didn't resurface until I happened to pull out a box of stuff yesterday.

In a different box, I found a journal from second grade, stapled together with a construction-paper cover. The third entry, on that paper with alternating dotted lines used to teach handwriting, was carefully lettered:

Monday, Sept. 11 1978
Today we
switched for
reading and math.
Some of us go
to Mrs.
Stalfort.

In future entries, I'd noted the first day of fall, Yom Kippur, Friday the 13th, Election Day, Mickey Mouse's 50th birthday, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Made me wonder what schoolchildren today will write in their journals about Sept. 11.

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