This weekend I visited New York City for the first time in a few years. For a while, when I worked for a transatlantic entertainment company, New York was fast becoming a second home; but lately, between writing full time and having two kids in our midst, it’s been a more distant outpost.
In the future world I created, Manhattan is a fortified enclave for the wealthy and powerful, an island nation run as one big co-op: owned and controlled by its land owners. I was writing the book just after the financial crisis and still in the shadow of 9/11; but I opted to write in The Freedom Tower, now officially called One World Trade Center.
This new building was still early in its construction when I began the novel and I visited the WTC site to view its foundation being built.
Now, over three years later, I saw the nearly completed building the for the first time.
I first caught sight of it from a distance, from my perch on 14th Street and 9th Avenue, in the Meatpacking District, but later got up close, at night, as the defiant tower rose out of the mist to greet the night sky.
It was a haunting sight. On one hand, 9/11 feels like it was yesterday. I can still clearly remember where I was (in one of my first classes in grad school in Boston); and the terrible feeling as my classmates feared for friends and family in the twin towers. On the other hand, just over twelve years is a long time. A lot has happened both with the world, and with me personally. We’ve had two US initiated wars, the election of Obama, and a global financial meltdown. In my world, I moved from Boston to Hollywood, made a movie, moved to London to get married and now have two young boys. Though that lens, 2001 feels like a million years ago.
The tower looked like a ghost, and it reminded me of the all of the innocent people lost that terrible day. But there was also something defiant and resilient about the structure, literally rising from the site of the senseless attack and meaningless violence.
There is something inspiring about the push to move on and rebuild, while at the same time never forgetting. Walking around the city, I froze at the sight of a fire engine that had the names of fallen 9/11 firefighters marked on the side of the ladder. New York has not forgotten its dead, but it is rising once again to the sky.
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