Nancy and I are currently in New York City. I haven’t been here since 1997 when I told the Paulist Fathers that I was leaving the priesthood to get married. It’s been a good few days (and we still have tomorrow) and I’ve noticed the things that are the same and the things that are different. It’s the same city in the sense that there’s still the same energy: New York is a city with lots and lots of people and I like getting caught up in the frenzy. Nancy, not so much. It’s also nice seeing some of the same landmarks. Last night we had dinner with my friend Tina who I hadn’t seen since 1997. We walked by St. Paul’s Church where I was ordained on May 14, 1994. Earlier in the day we spent the morning and afternoon at the Bronx Zoo: it’s a terrific zoo and I’m embarrassed that I hadn’t been there before.
Today we walked down to Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park. I always liked that part of town and we enjoyed walking around there. I dreaded this part, but we felt we needed to go down to where the World Trade Centers used to be. I haven’t been back since 9/11 and dreaded this but knew I had to go. The funny thing was that the Twin Towers were so much a part of lower Manhattan that it was hard to get a sense of that part of town without the Towers. I brought my camera but didn’t take any pictures because there simply weren’t any places that were good shots. I was, in a sense, relieved that there wasn’t a “Kodak place” there because no picture could get a sense of the horror of that day. I spent most of my time not looking at the place where they were (it’s now a construction site where they are rebuilding). Most of my energy was spent on the buildings in the immediate area. In the last (almost) six years I’ve spent countless hours thinking about what it must have been like to have been in one of the towers or one of the planes; today I wondered what it must have been like to be in one of the buildings nearby. To have seen those towers collapse and be enveloped in the dust. To have known what it all meant. To have to return to work in that area and have to look at the cloud of dust and debris for weeks and months. To have knows how close it all was and to wonder when all the screaming was going to be over.
On one hand it was nice to see New York working so well but it was hard not to be caught up in how it was then.