In 2001, I had just graduated from college. I was a newly minted real person, fresh and enthusiastic. And I was fortunate to move to New York city, to spend a summer sleeping on the floor at one of my oldest, dearest friend’s.
I was working as a temporary bench assistant for a jeweler there. I polished rings and sorted stones and took fieldtrips with her to the Diamond District, a magical place with tall buildings fronted by stores full of gold and glittering jewels. You passed through security at multiple points and rode an elevator up to the very top, to a small room full of strands of stones, arranged chromatically. Like standing inside a prism, with tiny smiling salespeople.
I was paid under the table. I agreed to take cash and every day, I spent $3 on a bagel with tomato slices and cream cheese, and a giant cup of coffee.
I am so grateful to the friend who put me up in her apartment. Who wanted to take me to see Echo and the Bunnymen, but I was so tired of being in the constant press of people in New York, I could not handle the intensity of a concert.
I am sorry I didn’t go to this day.
I went to the World Trade Center one evening, and maybe it was not actually on the 11th of July. We got all dressed up and rode in the elevator all the way up to Windows on the World. The bar was full of velvet and dim lights, and we ordered drinks and watched a burlesque show that I’ve forgotten the name of. You could look out the windows and see a twin bar, there in the other restaurant, with other smiling people laughing and drinking.
I want to remember the world before it all came crashing to Earth. Because in all that time we have not surmounted the anger and the pain and the loss, and so we keep breaking the world.