The last time I was in the Windows on the World restaurant was in the summer of 2001, maybe it was August. I was there with my cousin, Jesse, who lived on Chambers & Church at the time, and a few other friends. We went because they had a swing dancing night and good strong cocktails, not to mention a killer view. This may have also been my first time up there, but I'm not so sure about that.
We arrived in our own grand fashion, the boys, Jesse, Iain, Gary, Jason, all liked to make a grand entrance and follow it up with a lot of loud chatter and iain's trademark hand-grenade laugh. Cocktails were ordered, and drank, and ordered again. At some point we all gravitated towards he north-east facing windows.
A unique quality of the room were it's floor-to-ceiling windows, which provided that unrivaled view. The windows were framed by metal stanchions which were just wide enough to allow one person to occupy it comfortably. We each took up a position in one of these slots, and I leaned forward and let m head rest against the window, arms free. A bit more of the normal back and forth, until Jason, who, at the time, was working on a series of disaster-themed glitter 'paintings' asked everyone, "Ok, how long do you guys think these towers will be standing?"
Most of us said things like, "'Til after we're all gone," or similar. One person, and it might've been Jason, said they thought they'd be down in our lifetime. Morbid, and we all harangued the pessimist.
Adding to the surreality of our night, as we were coming out of the elevator, in the open-air lobby/Path station we were passed by a fully nude homeless man, who was shouting something that cracked us all up. In retrospect it all seems like something Ingmar Bergman would put in a film as a phenomenalogical symbol.
One year later I was in Santa Barbara. I woke up on east coast time that day, and went down to the beach with another displaced new yorker, to throw the frisbee and reflect a bit. As I was walking towardz the sand, a dolphin jumped clear out of he water three times in a row. More signs
Now it's eight years since the attacks. I finishe my master's degree, came back to the east coast, got married, got a few jobs, saw many peoplecome and go, and watched this city move on and heal up, while never forgetting.
In my work, there is always a before and an after, and the after is always supposed to be better than the before. It takes hard work and frustration and sometimes a relative amount of pain to get there, bit it is finite.
Thinking back on that night at the top of the world, it seems so completely different from now.