I don’t believe in coincidences, so , if today is the second Sunday of September and at the same time the 11th , there must be a reason and that means it’s time for me to talk about it 21 years after. My readers know that I publish on the second Sunday of each month and they surely know that, on September 11th 2001 , the Manhattan Twin Towers disappeared for ever. Today in their place there is the 9/11 Memorial and every child of the world knows the story and knows where New York is.
In the eighties things were different, over here in Italy only a few people used to travel to New York on a regular basis and the US were perceived quite far from us. Manhattan entered in my life one day of September, just after the summer holidays. I was sitting in the kitchen in our home in Tuscany and I was only ten. My dad showed me the world map and asked me to indicate where I thought Manhattan was. I didn’t have a clue. He took my finger and put it on New York saying : “Now you know where it is, we are moving there in a month time”. He was a man of few words and all I realized was that I had to leave my friends behind to start a new life in a bloody far place on the other side of the Ocean.
The immediate feeling was that we were leaving for the moon. There was no internet or social network and all the information I could get was only by books or movies. My mother had no idea of what it was like to move from a town of ninety thousands inhabitants to one of seven million, neither had my unstoppable dad. I recall my grandparents sad faces when we left them for the first time, it was like “who knows if we’ll meet again” kind of face.
Despite all that, my parents did move and since then New York has been part of my life and it still is today.
When the Towers were attacked in 2001, I was working in my office in London. I remember receiving a phone call from a friend telling me to turn on the tv and I was shocked, a place I loved had been cancelled for ever. I just couldn’t believe the towers had been razed to the ground together with the lives of those ones in there.
In that very moment I decided I had to go and see with my eyes. Three months later there I was walking around Ground Zero. The whole area was fenced and I found myself in front of an immense void left by the collapsed buildings. With the help of a local friend I managed to get into one of the empty standing buildings to be able of looking down in order to see what remained of the World Trade Center. The scenery left me breathless.
Today, after 21 years, going to the 9/11 Memorial plaza, I feel a deep anguish along with a certain nostalgia for the Towers and for the many times I tried, as a teenager, to take a picture of them both lying on the ground and pointing the camera upwards. Two fountains titled “Reflecting Absence” have replaced each fallen tower, young people walk by them and don’t even stop, some tourists do stop to read the names of the dead ones and all I see are two terrifying black holes that swallow running water .
Those fountains will never be as beautiful as the Towers.