At the 9/11 Memorial

Some loved ones left flowers and some left miniature flags. People flock, read the names that were carved on the long dark bronze blocks and pay their respect. But no matter how many people visit and congregate around the twin giant pools that used to be where World Trade Center buildings or twin towers were, it always feel somber and subdued there. The first time I came to the site of Ground Zero was 6 years after the 9/11 tragedy happened. My parents were visiting from Indonesia and we took them there. There’s still nothing interesting to see but covered wire fences. There were a lot of works happening behind them. The sound from the heavy machineries, the banging of metals and the buzzing from the construction workers all mixed as proof that life still goes on. I felt humble being at the Ground Zero, because a couple years before 2001 I was there staring at the two towers with astonishment of the tallest buildings in the country. My husband and I passed by the area where World Trade Center was for several times when we headed towards Brooklyn. I would open the car window and look at WTC buildings enthusiastically while we passed the lower Manhattan. Who would’ve known that one day those magnificent buildings would be gone.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up on our bed with our oldest daughter who was 2 years old and our baby girl who was 4 months old. They were still asleep soundly and peacefully without any care in the world. I turned on the TV and watched the morning show on NBC, the Today Show. It was sometime after 8AM suddenly Katie Couric, one of the presenters on the show, announced a distressing news: an airplane has crashed into one of the twin towers. I was stunned. But I thought maybe it was an accident until I saw from the live feed another plane flew directly towards the other tower. What has happened? Then, in minutes everything crumbled and fell. Katie Couric was heard crying on air and I had trouble believing what I had saw. My eyes welled up, tears ran down because I imagined the chaos that ensued. I held my daughters closer and I could feel something in the atmosphere was brewing, fear. 

It has been 18 years since the most despicable tragedy I’ve ever witnessed, happened. I can still feel the uneasy feeling when September 11th is approaching. The site where Ground Zero was, now a sprawling park with memorial for the fallen and a museum to commemorate the lost. In November 2017, I took a group of high school students from Indonesia and their teacher to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. It was the first time I visited the place and I became rather emotional especially when I read the names of the people who perished during the tragedy. My fingers sometime ran through the carved letters on the bronze blocks while I listened to the sound of the man-made waterfall, said to be the greatest in United States. In April this year, I visited the plaza again and that time I was escorting an old friend and his colleagues who were curious about the 9/11 Memorial. They were astounded and again, I somehow lost with emotion when I read a name, a woman’s, with additional statement “and her unborn child”. 

(To all who perished and the first responders, may you rest in peace).

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Between the Light and the Dark in New York City

One day, I walked pass by the street in Manhattan and saw the Chrysler Building almost two hours before sunset came. Sunlight reflected on its gleaming metal body creating a pink hue. I was mesmerized. Standing on the edge of busy Manhattan street, I took several shots of theĀ  building that its luster lasts through century. A friend told me how she loves Chrysler Building and wants to visit it someday and I promised her to take some shots if I ever near the vicinity. I went inside a store that lines up Fifth Avenue without caring about the change of scenery outside. Darkness fell and it seemed making Manhattan subdued. The footsteps of some tourists and people coming home from work became less and less. Meanwhile on the other part of the city, people flocked in Times Square where neon lights were the attractions as if moths to the flame. Chrysler Building and its twinkling lights seen from afar, like a lighthouse guiding some weary and tired people, like me, towards another destination to reach home, Grand Central Terminal. I walked down an alley where I heard the tinkling of utensils and glasses from a restaurant nearby. I saw a couple set up a tripod and took some pictures of the Chrysler Building. The mix smell of dust, old buildings, weather and pee wafted in the alley way. Between the light and the dark, people can get lost in its mystery.

As I typed this journal, I remember a discussion between me and a beloved one about sleeping in the dark. I need a sliver of light, just a small source of light, to be able to sleep. I’ve tried sleeping in the dark and it’s hard for me to concentrate. The mystery of the dark makes my mind working on a weird scenario. He said, sleeping in darkness makes his other senses more apparent. I suppose he’s right. I listen attentively when I slept in the dark and sometimes I chose to stay in the dark when migraine hit me. During the full moon, I let the curtain open a little bit to let the light get into the room and it felt somewhat calmer. Back in Manhattan, where the wind blew strong and picked up some strewn papers and plastic bags, I saw a man sleeping in front of a closed store. He covered his face with his hat, perhaps wanting to hide from the Manhattan lights that can be blinding to someone who just wanted to have a goodnight sleep.

The Chrysler Building, NYC

The Chrysler Building, NYC

The Chrysler Building, NYC

The Chrysler Building, NYC