Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Photo Surprise #2

I've been to New York City only once (so far). I had purchased tickets to visit my friend, Jennie Tonic, in 2001.... As it turned out, 10 days after the Twin Towers were hit. I contemplated canceling the trip, but decided security would never be tighter, and I went.

I was there just for a long weekend, and though Jennie gave me a hell of a whirlwind tour, I'm sure that my next NYC experience will be a different one. Traffic was still eerily quiet when I was there; no horns honking or brakes screeching. Subway queues were calm and organized, and people around me helped others with packages and doors. I remember asking Jennie several times, "is this normal?"—especially when I inadvertently stepped out into the street against a light, and forced a cabbie to hit the brakes. I waited for a barrage of profanity, but he smiled and waved me across, telling me "no problem." "Not normal," she assured me.

I had my camera with me then, too, and though I felt an urge to document everything I saw, there were so many pictures I could not bear to take. Weeping people searching for loved ones on billboards at St. Vincents. Dusty firefighters taking a break on the sidewalk; oh please, can I just take a picture of a real live hero? The urge is there to ask, and not of disrespectful spirit. But no. This is not Disney World. These people are exhausted and lost, and I will not impose on them to be a part of my *vacation* pictures.

I still came home with a lot of photographs: Photos of letters and photos of photos. Photos of flowers and candles, and sidewalks covered with candle-wax. Of intersections and playgrounds and posters and shop windows, and of trucks hauling twisted metal from Ground Zero.

But none of people. None of hope and fear and broken hearts.

I thought.

Union Square (I believe it was) was filled with a park-sized memorial. Unimaginable piles of flowers, and burning candles. Cameras everywhere, professional cameras, and personal cameras, lined up forever. Look at them all, I thought. Are they fascinated tourists, or cheesy paparazzi? I had to take a picture of these people taking pictures.

Below is my Surprise Photo-within-a-photo, #2. It aches me.


  1. Anonymous11:22 PM

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  2. Anonymous12:31 AM

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  3. Those are children. I wonder what they're doing now, four years later?

    Your photo brought tears to my eyes.


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