The summer after my sophomore year in college, I went up to NY to spend some time on Long Island with my friend Swooze (yes the same Swooze you read about here). One day we went into the city to stay with her sister who lived in the West Village (was it on 12th St?). That trip I experienced my first (but definitely not my last) unfathomably small Manhattan apt. In my memory, all I can see is a kitchen, and I don’t remember where we slept, but I know we didn’t spend much time there. The next morning, since there wasn’t enough room to actually eat in the apt, we took her sister’s recommendation and started our day with banana pancakes at Cottonwood Cafe, on Bleecker St. right at 8th and Hudson. We spent the rest of the day walking the length of Bleecker to its termination at the Bowery, at CBGBs, which I wanted to see. Then we walked back. Along the way, we went into stores, drank coffee, ate food and, in general, killed time the way college kids on vacation in the slower-moving days before Ultra-Communication! could do. The details of the day have long since folded into one another to represent a cushiony gritty summer day — my first ever spent wandering around New York City.
But there’s one detail of that day that I will never forget. At every single cross street we looked south, and if we could see the World Trade Center down that street, we sang out “Hello Twin Towers!” in a silly, sing-songy, college-kids-thinking-they’re-funnier-than-they-are kind of way.
All the way to the Bowery. And all the way back to the west side. If you are unfamiliar with downtown Manhattan, this is like 18 blocks (not all blocks afforded a view of the Trade Center). The Twin Towers accompanied us on our walk, ducking away mid-block, and then waiting for us on every corner. And at every corner we were delighted to see them again, bidding them hello with warmth befitting the surprise encounter of a friend.
I eventually lived in NYC for 6 years, almost on Bleecker St. for 2 of them, and yet every time I walked down Bleecker, I know I looked downtown at the cross streets and greeted the Twin Towers (albeit a little more quietly), or at least thought about Swooze’s and my walk. Every time.
And on 9/11 every year, I find I spend the day with the chorus of our song echoing in my head.