Until this week, I had not been back to New York City since 1990. That’s pre-Law & Order, believe it or not. I can barely remember a time without Jerry Orbach or Sam Waterston gracing my TV screen. My husband and I were in Manhattan to see old friends before heading out to Long Island for a family reunion. I truthfully did not know what to expect.
Here’s what I found: a vibrant, exciting city full of voices chattering in dozens of different languages, friendly natives willing to give up a subway seat for a miserably hot visitor (me), clean streets, and beautiful parks. I felt safe! You don’t go far in NYC without seeing evidence of the new reality, i.e., Coast Guard gunboats accompanying the Staten Island Ferry back and forth between Manhattan and Staten Island, NYPD officers with automatic weapons stationed across the street from the 911 Memorial, and reminders everywhere that that piece of unclaimed baggage could be a bomb. Be alert!
I had forgotten how much fun subways are. I’ve always loved trains anyway and could get used to that form of travel. Everyone either walks or uses public transportation to reach their destinations. Who’d want to drive in Manhattan anyway? It’s nuts.
My two goals for this trip were met: visits to both Ground Zero and Strawberry Fields. The atmosphere at the 911 Memorial was solemn, respectful, and immensely peaceful. I got the sense that the victims themselves are at peace. That is truly sacred ground. Strawberry Fields, on the other hand, was joyous. Someone left a glass vase of red roses on the Imagine disc. That gesture touched my heart. Two vastly different memorials erected in honor of two vastly different, yet emotionally wrenching, events.
What an amazing city. It’s on the upswing, you can see the evidence wherever you look. I’ve fallen back in love with Manhattan. Didn’t expect that.