It’s the 11th of September and I have decided to go to downtown Manhattan to Ground Zero. Of some reason, I push the decision ahead of me all day, and when I finally do stear for the subway station, it has passed eleven o’clock at night.
The streets are sleek and dark from the rain and all I got on me is a sweatsuit and forty bucks. People on the subway are serious-looking and the rain makes the air damp and smelling of wet clothes and bodies. A couple is standing closely together. She looks like she’s about to cry and he got his arms around her. Maybe they’re on their way to Ground Zero, too, I muse, and think it all makes perfect sense. I pull my hood up and let the gloom engulf me, thinking about sadness, losses and wounds that never heal. Eight years have passed, but tonight New York seems like a jet-black tunnel without the faintest streak of light.
I stop and ask a young couple to direct me to the right track.
“Ground Zero?” he echoes.
“It’s 911” she reminds him with a hush in her voice.
“Oh. Right. So … you’re going down there now?” he says and keeps the puzzled expression.
I start explaining about being new in town and feeling the urge to go down there, but I realize that I haven’t really rehearsed or even explored my reasons in depth, so I break it off, thank them and leave for the train.
The train comes scrambling in the same moment as the man from the couple hurries up to me:
“I just wanted to ask you if you would like to go out for dinner some time”, he says.
Just like that. And the evening of September 11th is changing color. Things are not always quite as they seem. He’s single. I’m not. The evening may be dark, but there is, after all, rays of light. Together with other newyorkers we go downtown and let ourselves be quietly steered past the barriers, police cars and flowers that fill the gap where the Twin Towers used to be. The rain drizzles down and it’s midnight. But the night is peaceful, and the gloom is somehow gone. – Like when you’ve had a bad dream and turn on the bedside lamp. It’s 911, but it’s also just another Friday night in New York, and after a while, we move uptown to greet life, night open bars and new friendships.
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