Um…This Might Be Controversial. But Not On Purpose

My sister Jaime was in town this weekend and we had a great time hanging out. I told her to bring her walking shoes, and it’s a good thing I did as we covered a lot of ground. When I showed her a map of how far we actually walked, she couldn’t believe it.

I picked her up Saturday morning around 10:30. Her bus arrived at the Port Authority bus terminal which is only about 3 blocks from my place. We dropped off her stuff and began our journey.

We took off for Times Square and from there headed north. We did a quick walkthrough of Toys R Us and went by the Letterman theater. We walked all the way up Broadway and into Central Park. We only got about a third of the way into the park and then turned around (I’m not extremely familiar with the rest of the park and didn’t want to get turned around). We headed back south and stopped for lunch at the Jekyll & Hyde Club near 57th. It was a good time, the characters were amusing (almost to the point of being annoying) but all in all it was a lot of fun.

We continued to head south, this time via 5th Avenue so we could pass Trump Plaza, 30 Rock, and get a good view of the Chrysler Building. We zigged to go by Radio City Music Hall on 6th and made our way to Bryant Park. We circled around the park so we could go by the Historic Library and also the home of the original Soup Nazi place.

We continued south and soon made our way to 34th street. We got a great view of the Empire State Building and also went by Madison Square Gardens. We hopped on the subway at Penn Station and made our way south to go to Ground Zero, the former home of the World Trade Center/Twin Towers.

And this is where things may get controversial, depending on who’s reading this. Just a disclaimer to let you know I’m not being funny or sarcastic or trying to be controversial. This is just the way I (and it turns out Jaime) felt.

I’d never been to Ground Zero before. A lot of people from out of town ask me if I’d been to see it and to be honest I never had an inclination to go. I’m not a native New Yorker, I’d only visited the city a couple of times briefly before, and prior to my move here in July really felt no connection to the city. Yes, September 11 was a tragedy, but it didn’t affect me the same way that it would have had I lived here at the time or if I knew someone who was directly involved.

When Jaime and I arrived at Ground Zero it…well…it just looked like one of a zillion construction projects going on in the city. Had I not known where we were, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed. Needless to say, it wasn’t an incredibly moving experience. It was just a bunch of bulldozers and cranes and without trying to be crass, I see that on my walks in the city every day.

Is that cold to say? Maybe it would have been different had I been there right after it happened and the rubble and debris was still there but as it was, I just felt guilty. When people would ask if I’ve been to Ground Zero it would make me feel guilty that I hadn’t. And now I feel guilty that I have and, for lack of a better phrase, it didn’t do anything for me.

I can’t help but feel it will be different after they have finished completing the memorial buildings and structures. I’d like to go back after it’s finished where I can learn a little more about the history, read stories, and feel like I experience it a little more.

Jaime (who was in Iraq in the Army just a couple of months ago) and I talked about this and we talked about the fact although it was a terrible day, things like this happen all over the world every day of the year and we (Americans) could care less. But when it happens to us, then it’s important. We weren’t belittling people whose lives were lost on 9/11 but found it a little dreary that most Americans only seem to care about it when that happens in the US. I don’t know. I would probably have to babble on for much longer than this to really express everything, but I’m already bored, I can’t imagine how you, Dear Reader, must feel.

After that we walked South to get a look at the Statue of Liberty and then returned back to the apartment, eager to get out of the rain for an hour or so. That night Jaime went to the theater with me to watch the improv show and she had a great time. She said during the intermission of the first show the guys in the seats next to her were talking and were convinced that we were performing memorized scenes, so I guess that’s a pretty good compliment.

All in all, a fun weekend with Jaime. It was her first time in NYC and I asked her what the biggest surprise was about the city. She said it was a lot cleaner than she expected. I don’t know if she meant the city or my apartment.

Even though it rained pretty much the whole time she was here, it didn’t dampen our spirits or keep us from cracking each other up the entire time. Today she and her family are moving to Seattle so I am glad she was able to visit before they end up on the Left Coast. Good times.

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