October 26, 2012
We had already secured our free visitor passes for 10:00 AM entry, so all we had to do was show up. Of course, no morning would be complete without another visit to Tim Hortons; I elected to have a hot coffee with my donut this time instead of an Iced Capp, since it was a bit chilly this morning.
After breakfast, we made our way to the subway station and once again took the R line, this time to Cortlandt Street. Prior to the September 11 attacks, this station was connected to the World Trade Center. Afterwards, it was closed for over a year for repairs. Now, ten years later, we were here.
It is difficult to believe that it has been a double-digit number of years since 9/11 happened. On that day I was driving to work, unaware of what had taken place. I was in traffic on the Bayshore Freeway approaching the Bay Bridge when I turned on the radio. The news announcers sounded panicked and nervous. You could tell that something big had happened. They mentioned that the bridge might be closing in case of an attack. I wondered if someone had started a war. Amazingly, “al-Qaeda” flashed through my mind. I still didn’t know that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.
My heart started pounding and different scenarios went through my mind. Should I still go to work? What if I got stuck over there? I could always drive down to San Jose and back up the Peninsula. What if they attacked the bridge while I was on it? I didn’t have much time to make a choice because the last San Francisco exit was coming up. I elected to take the exit and head home.
On the way, the announcers finally recapped what had happened. My hands started shaking, imagining what might have happened if planes crashed into the Bay Bridge. I sped home and ran upstairs. My family was watching the TV. I was so scared of what had happened and so relieved that I was home that the second I walked into the room, I cried like a little baby. It was real, irrepressible, uncontrollable sobbing, the first time I had cried in years. All those people, killed! My mother comforted me and that’s the last memory I have of that day.
I imagine that most people would have similar playbacks of their memories when they visit the 9/11 Memorial. It is a poignant reminder of that day, but it is also a sign of hope. What was once a picture of a post-war apocalypse is now a beautiful, quiet, and serene place. We spent some time sitting and reflecting, taking it all in.
I was pretty emotionally-drained afterwards so we decided to just head home. Before getting on the subway, we went looking for a bathroom because there are none at the memorial (remember this if you go!). We walked around the area and found a department store called Century 21 and went inside, knowing that department stores are usually pretty good with public restrooms. Lo and behold, this one was no different, and afterwards we got a chance to walk around the store.
From one department store to another, we stopped by Macy’s after going home. I wanted to lighten our loads a little bit and send home some of the souvenirs we had acquired during Adventure 2012. In hindsight, it was probably a bad idea, because these were priceless treasures and I risked losing them in the mail because I didn’t want to carry them around (I wouldn’t have needed to anyway because the next leg was our road trip). You could probably argue that it was just as much of a risk carrying them around. Anyhow, I forgot to mention that the Macy’s in San Francisco has a post office inside, so I figured the one in NYC did as well.
One cool thing about this Macy’s is that it is also an historical landmark, originally built in 1902. It is hard to forget the 100+ year-old wooden escalators that took us up to the post office level.
Another cool thing about Macy’s is that the basement floor is usually called the Cellar and they usually have some pretty good food down there. In this Macy’s there was a Cucina and Co., a “Gourmet Café & Marketplace”. I’d have to say that I don’t disagree with how they’ve positioned themselves. JC enjoyed her self-constructed salad and I scarfed down my penne pasta with chicken and bacon before drinking a Snapple. I also bought a coffee and a slice of New York cheesecake (I ate New York cheesecake in New York!!!) for dessert. I guess you can say I really liked that place. 🙂
I spent the rest of the afternoon inside our apartment reviewing finances, scanning flyers and sorting photos, eating cheesecake, and drinking coffee while JC shopped at Macy’s. It was an extremely pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
For Friday night, our friend came to visit and check out our apartment. After that, we walked over to Penn Station and took the subway to Court Street in Brooklyn (since we were following our friend again, I have no idea what line we took). As it was Friday-evening-commute-time it was pretty busy inside Penn Station, and I was glad I got a chance to experience it. Things got even better when I saw a Tim Hortons. I bought the Iced Capp that I had skipped at breakfast. So good.
Dinner was at a neighborhood bar called Henry Public. It was a cozy little place where I enjoyed my first Scotch since leaving Scotland. My friend kept recommending me the Turkey Leg Sandwich (which they are known for), but I was in the mood for some beef, so I ordered the Hamburger Sandwich. That was the first item on the menu so I figured it must be pretty up there as well. Well, my friend was right, the Turkey Leg Sandwich was pretty awesome, while the burger was just so-so. We also had some beef marrow bones with toast that was very, very rich. Overall, it was a pleasant dinner.
We walked around the neighborhood a bit afterwards before going back to my friend’s apartment to watch a movie that we rented from a vending machine at Duane Reade. It was my first time doing all those things. My friend had been trying to get me to visit New York for years, and I finally got to see her place and get an idea of how she lived.
After the movie, we took the subway home via Borough Hall station, which is apparently connected to Court Street as part of the same station complex. Our experience with King’s Cross in London taught us that even if stations are in the same complex, they may not be truly connected, so we made sure we entered through a entrance labeled “Borough Hall”. Although it was after 1:00 AM, we never felt like we were in danger of being mugged or anything like that. It makes me think of another thing that I took away from New York: people were really friendly, nothing like the surly city-dwellers that they’re reputed to be. Two stereotypes debunked, which is what traveling and experiencing things is all about.
We got home before 2:00 AM, ending our third day in New York City.