Never Forget

My husband wrote a memory, a moment we shared in New York on top of the World Trade Center before the world changed:

Even having grown up in NY, I have a handful of unusual personal connections to the World Trade Center. The very first time I stepped foot in the city (I grew up on Long Island), I toddled — as you do as a toddler — along with my family to the observation deck; I also spent an entire surreal day there in the smoke and mayhem of the 1993 bombing. But my fondest memory is my last, and what would be my unwitting farewell to the iconic landmark. In late summer 2000, at the dawn of the Twin Towers’ final year and during our first year together, I wanted Camilla to see the view from the top. After dinner in the Village, we made the trip up to The Greatest Bar on Earth for a nightcap. On the south side of the North Tower, the ironically named lounge — because you hardly felt like you were on Earth when there — offered a stunning view of the South Tower, the rest of Lower Manhattan, and New York Harbor with its teeny, tiny Statue of Liberty, somehow just as majestic in miniature. The real showstopper though was the north-facing view from the adjoining Windows on the World. The restaurant had a policy however that you couldn’t enjoy its visual splendors without dining there — and cocktails next door didn’t qualify. But one could hardly make the vertical pilgrimage with one’s future wife and not show her the goods. So I boldly snuck — as you do as a New Yorker — with said future wife in tow (“Act like you own the place and follow me…”) through a partition toward the banquet rooms. The restaurant had catering spaces on the north side with the same views. We strode down the hall past a kindly man who was buffing the floors and into a cavernous and thoroughly empty ballroom. While I’d technically seen this view before, emotionally I hadn’t. Through the floor to lofty ceiling windows was the most magical image of my city I’d ever beheld. After collecting our jaws from their recent trip to the carpet, we danced. Without the accompaniment of music, we danced. Without knowledge of the future but with love in the present, we danced. We danced.

-P.J. Ochlan, 2016