My New York Holiday 2013 Addendum

So I suppose I’ve still got the post-holiday blues, three weeks after returning from New York. Or have I? Perhaps, as Billy Joel’s song goes, “I’m [still] in a New York state of mind”! As with all holidays, yours, mine and just about everybody’s, this one was over far too soon.

There are always things and places we would like to have seen and done but didn’t get round to, or seen more of (or again) but didn’t have the time. For example, I would like to have taken in a Broadway show (or even an Off Broadway or Off-Off Broadway for that matter!). Had I known about @TKTS Discount Ticket Booth on Times Square (or online at: www.tdf.org/tkts) sooner, I may well have booked tickets.

I would also have liked to re-visit some places that I had seen on my previous two trips. However, as I have mentioned in previous posts, commuting by public transport from my brother’s house on Long Island into Manhattan (or anywhere else) is extremely difficult and time-consuming. And I found that asking for directions from locals is also often a fruitless excercise; many are either so focused on their own lives (one similarity they share with a great many Brits, I’ve observed), that they aren’t aware of what’s going on around them. For example, in Manhattan, most residents or workers around Central Park haven’t heard of the Delacorte Theater, even when they’re standing right outside it! Or else they’re so dependent on technology (e.g. satnavs etc.) that they just don’t know how to get around themselves.

All this can be very frustrating for the tourist who has actually done some research and is trying to actually enjoy the locals’ home town. The consequent restriction on my time forced me to prioritise my sightseeing and concentrate on a few new experiences that most first-time visitors usually miss.

However, one thing I do regret was not visiting the recently completed 9/11 Memorial (www.911memorial.org) on the site of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.

With regards to that tragic day, I am arguably blessed in two ways. First, I was privileged to have been taken by my brother to lunch in the Windows on the World Restaurant in the North Tower in June 2011 – just three months before 9/11 – and had met some of the staff who worked there. Second, I was lucky enough not to have lost any loved ones in the attack.

The fact that I had personally visited the Twin Towers and have met and interacted with some of the staff makes the tragedy of 9/11 more poignant for me than even most native New Yorkers (notwithstanding the personal loss of the nearly 3000 victims’ families), who would, until that day, have regarded the World Trade Center as just another local landmark that they pass while they go about their daily business. The restaurant and bar staff whom I had met in June 2001 were more to me than just figures on the tv or names on a list. They were human beings with faces, feelings and real lives. And while they were simply acquaintances to me rather than close, intimate friends, the horrible thought that some or all of them may have been killed in such dreadful circumstances on September 11th, 2001 will live with me – possibly for the rest of my life.

Maybe what I actually regret is not that I didn’t manage to visit the 9/11 Memorial site on this trip (after all, things happen and life goes on), but that I didn’t make more of an effort to do so. I feel that I should have gone to pay my respects to not just the innocent workers and visitors killed in the WTC on 9/11 (including possibly those who had served my lunch in June 2001), but also the First Responders and other emergency service staff who either died trying to rescue them or suffered serious physical and mental trauma in doing so.

I hope and pray that this may serve as a small tribute to those who lost their lives or suffered terrible injuries on that day.

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