It's the late 1970's and I'm in High School. I crawl out of bed
in the morning and make my way through the kitchen where my father is leaning against a kitchen counter staring out the window of our fourth floor apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, some 18 miles away from the World Trade Center.
"What are you doing?" I ask, mystified over his morning ritual.
"Staring at the Towers," he explains.
I walk up to the window. It is early June. I look at the Twin
Towers and shrug my shoulders. "What's the big deal? They're there every
"Yeah, but you can tell what kind of day it's going to be by
"You sure that's insulin you put in your needle?"
"Look," he says. "You can see the Towers disappearing into all
the buildings surrounding them. It's clear as a bell, outside. It's a
beautiful day. Things will move as smoothly and as beautifully as the London
Symphony Orchestra. On other days, when you can't see the Towers, you know
you're in for a day of rain. People are annoyed. Traffic slows. The City
feels more like a record full of nicks and cuts, than anything. On still other
days, when you can see just the top twenty, or thirty floors, you can see the
haze surrounding the middle of the Towers. You know the air outside is going
to stick to you like maple syrup. Probably a good idea to bring an extra
My dad is gone, now. He climbed into bed one night in 1997 and
never woke up.
My mother and my father where from small towns in Maine. She also
had a thing for the Trade Towers. Sometimes, you'd climb up out of a
subway station, knowing where you were but not quite sure of where you had to
go. You'd immediately look around for the Towers and once you spotted them,
the isle of Manhattan fell out before you as perfectly as if you had a map in
"It's better than the Northern Star," my mom use to say. "You
don't have to wait for nightfall to see it."
My mom died in 1991.
The view from the top of the tower was beyond words. The elevator
ride to the 98th floor was like a lift-off with ears popping. You'd walk
off one elevator and onto another for a short ride to the observation deck and
feel the same sense of wonder you would feel overlooking the Grand Canyon;
God's work of art. Manhattan, spilling out before you from the observation deck
of the World Trade Tower, an architectural ballet keeping you on the edge of
your seat, amazed at the visions dancing before your eyes.
I feel the need to go to New York now and visit the grave sites
of my mom and dad, and then go to lower Manhattan and visit the grave site that
was the Towers, covering the bodies of those I rode the subways with and sat
in the plaza with, or perhaps just glanced at on the streets outside. In the
coming days, weeks, months, we will come to know them. We will come to
know all of them and in some way, they will remain with us this for the rest
of our lives.
by Jon Simonds