I want to thank Tomas Rahal for remembering the WTC as a living public space, inspiring me to share a few of my best memories:
Watching them being built and the constant critiques of their design which were mostly seen as ugly boxes that would “mar”the skyline.
My brother Richard, one of the first Black men to integrate the carpenter’s union, provided insights on what was going on as they were going up, making us feel some kinship to the structures and process. I’ve long heeded his admonitions never to live above the height of the local hook and ladder truck.
Memories of going to the top with my boyfriend, Eddie, and a small group of high school friends. The mingled feelings of awe and fear as we moved as close to the edge as possible, something that could never happen now.
I ate at Windows on the World only once, but it was a wonderful experience for a teen-aged, very parochial girl. Eddie was a future chef, and thank goodness, he insisted on getting me there, as much for the experience as for the food.
Years later, I accumulated great memories of zipping through the human traffic going from NJ to my job in Brooklyn, feeling swift and powerful, a true city woman who knew how to maneuver through the crowds and streets of this iconic building above the trains I used daily. Of being courted by my husband Raymond, sharing sweet first kisses under and along those towers, knowing, yet disinterested, like two palace guards of our royal city.
On days off or evenings, we would walk from the WTC to Chinatown for lunch, then up to Little Italy for dessert, and coffee in the Village, ending with me getting the Path train on 9th after picking up goodies from Balducci’s.
At her behest, I did “The Forum” in the Tower with a friend in 2000, my last real interaction with them before they fell, driving up from Virginia for the weekend retreat. My next encounter would be one of devastation, shock, and grief, replete with the odors of death and a secret fear of what might be seen.
Yet looking back, I’m grateful for every one of these memories because I was there to have the experiences when they were living constructions, teeming with all the complex thoughts and feelings of humanity, not monuments to death. I’m luckier than many: my loved ones survived and only a cousin in law never met can I name among the fallen. I’m free of the deep personal pain that so many colleagues and acquaintances relive most likely a bit every day, and most poignantly each September. So because they may be unable to think about the towers without pain, we remember for them, as I hope they remember the sweetness of their loved ones’ lives.