New York subways don’t faze me after living in Chicago. Alone I took the train to catch up with my friends.
They’d gone ahead to shop in SoHo. First time I’d been in New York since 1993. Or was it 1994? Didn’t matter. I was on the train now, rolling toward our rendezvous point. The destination we promised not to miss while in the city.
The digital map counted down the stops. Spring Street. Canal Street.
“Is this the new station?” a fellow tourist said as we arrived. “This must be the new station.”
“No,” said a New Yorker in earshot of the traveler. “This is the same station. The one under the buildings.”
So clean and empty now. Images of firemen covered in dust and wading through rubble flashed in my memory.
“We’re in line,” a text beeped through from my friends. “Meet us at the entrance. We have your ticket.”
The street narrowed as I made my way.
My friends and I passed through security, stood in line with crowds of people, and finally stepped inside the fences.
In New York, the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is a city park, flat concrete with trees placed about. A bustling stage set for the main event.
We were drawn to the sides of a massive square basin.
People of every size, shape, and color leaned close to the stone edges engraved with the names of the deceased. We peered over to see down into the water.
Thousands of gallons rushed along a run under the stone edges with the names. We could touch that stream. Visitors brought their wet fingers up to the names they knew. Like a drink in the sweltering sun.
The water from the run rested on a ledge then fell, plummeting straight down to another greater plateau. From there it was pulled across until it dropped out of sight into a deep shaft at the center of the fountain.
I turned to leave. “There are two of them?”
We walked across the concrete plaza to another fountain identical to the first, except engraved with different names. Nearly an acre each in size, these fountains are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. They trace the footprints of the two World Trade Center towers.
I tried to imagine people running across the courtyard. Tried to see bits of shredded office paper midair.
A museum will open at the site to join the fountains. Reconstruction of new buildings has begun. We’re years away from that day, but we remember.
On location in New York, second by second, the water reenacts the motion of the debris, buildings, and people.
It rushes and swirls and falls and is gone.
For He knows how weak we are;
He remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here. Psalm 103:14-16 NLT