With a woman saying nice to meet you to everyone, the start of the journey began. Well, not really I can safely say that it began in my dormitory the night before when I contacted the adviser to the project Jackie DiBella. Who told me with a document that I would have to wake and get to the bus to the station by 4:30 in the morning, and there was a party, loud and unstoppable, only a few halls down. We have three officers on board and I was too slow at the keyboard in order to type down, Gary and Larry were the two bus drivers that ran the expedition. Meeting the tour director would occur at NYC. The speech ending with “sit back and relax” I had just been roused out a of a sound sleep at three am in the morning, yet I was still stoked to go, and felt that there was nothing that could go wrong in any way, shape, or from here.
We drove for six hours, and after an eternity made our way to Zuccotti Park, where I accomplished one of my childhood dreams. I had my first slice of NYC pizza. You have not lived until you have has a slice at NYC. The park itself held a protest against Wall Street at that park a few years ago. And after the lunch we headed straight to the museum.
It really started with s going to the ground zero memorial exhibit, where we split up independently to view it. The entrance was well fortified by metal detectors, armed guards, and lengthy security procedures. The hall beyond led into a huge foyer, and just inside the museum, the first sight gripped me. There were glass panels, and not ordinary. They somehow had projectors that made it so words would be produced in the shape of North America, in every language I could think of. They towered at least ten feet tall, and they were arranged in such a pattern that the whole of the U.S could only be seen from an angle at the beginning of the tour.
I saw the size of something called “the last pillar” before I even entered the exhibit which was about, in diameter, as long as I am and extended from the ground to the highest points of the trade center before it was destroyed. Its base served a reminder to the grandeur of this titan, and the rest of what was left had been signed by family members of those who had died there, and moved to a location I didn’t know. There was one last exhibit titled, “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning,” before the major exhibit itself, where dozens if not hundreds of different hues and shades of blue silhouetted against a wall that was around twenty feet tall, and maybe fifty feet or so wide. Some words staunchly peered against it in lead, gray writing saying:
No day shall erase you from the memory of time.
I scoured the museum in search of something memorable, and I found it: I did not suspect it to be so emotional. The museum itself held a collection of audio files of those that had been in the fires before they died, and memorabilia from that moment. I can not show you what truly went on in the actual center, but perhaps I can give you a small glimpse. Twisted metal, broken concrete, police badges, broken fire fighter helmets, bandannas, backpacks, notes, and quotes of those transcribed upon the wall for all to see. It was the stories that weren’t told in high school are what struck me. Stories like a civilian running in the debris with a red bandana, saving anyone he could in the wreckage, and his body showing not too long after. Or how a man called his little girl at 8:59, and then 9:00 am saying things like “ I think were safe in this building,” and “ It’s terrible. It’s terrible,” are the things I can’t shake from my mind. Along with a memorial to what it was before this and every manner of dedication to it after it was obliterated, my mindset focused on how it would have been like to be there. I saw paintings, wreathes, and posters to the sites history, before and after; even a comic by marvel for it, appropriately named “Heroes”.
There were ways to involve if you wanted to leave your mark there. You could leave a signature for the archives and a quote for future generations to stare on what you had left behind. There was also a room in which you could record statements of how you thought this was important to remember, or how everything has changed in the last several years since that day. I signed up for both the recording and the signature. Maybe you will see my name and the words “I was not there, but I will remember.” on one of the digital plaques, or hear my recording.
After an hour of us students walking alone, we finally assembled into a mass with the help of some coordinating from Jackie and our tour guide Steve. We had some stragglers and were waiting for about fifteen minutes. I promised then and there, outside near the shinning pools of the memorial, that I would not leave the side of the group, and work to my utmost capability to prevent myself from getting lost.
We toured a little more, jay-walked past a small army of cops in broad sight, and took a view of the legendary Statue of Liberty, and even saw Ellis Island not far behind. We traveled around the city for not much longer and then made our way past Broadway and deeper into the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
We had stopped by Chinatown, the home of “Rolex” watches, and “Prada” bags, and although I wasn’t much of a shopper, this was Chinatown in NYC! Suffice to say I was bouncing out of my chair when the tour guide said. “Hey you guys want to go shopping around here?” And I was the first one out. Somehow I had got it through my brain that he said, “show at the corner of Canal and Mulberry street in Little Italy. You’ll be able to tell by the Neon sign. Not show at blah, blah, blah.” I thought I heard 5:45 but I heard him say 6:45 at one point too, thank you lack of sleep. And so, I marched into the throngs of the metropolis, where I bought a cool hat and a few knick knacks for me and my folks, huzzah! I even got a few pictures of the San Gennaro Festival at Little Italy. But this was was short lived, I showed at the place I thought I was supposed to show, and no one was there. I hastily checked my phone and, of course, there was no power. I was stuck in one of the largest cities in the world, and had no way of contacting anyone that could get me out. So I did what any sane, rational human being would do: I started running up to strangers and asked if I could take their phones for just a second. Well, I wasn’t that harsh, but the looks I was given suggested so; personally I don’t blame them, someone asking to email someone does sound odd, not dangerous but odd. After about an hour of struggle, talking to police officers about if there was a library in a ten mile radius, and a visit to Starbucks where I failed in acquiring a usb cord, I found a kind woman, with who I assumed is her boyfriend, who agreed to help me out. She gave me her phone for a second, while I kept saying they could do it themselves, since trusting a strange kid with a weird story is kind of unheard of. I messed with her phone for about five minutes while her much taller and stronger than me bodyguard/boyfriend stood watching me like I was a poisonous serpent. I then tapped the button for sign out and thanked them for their time. Literally seconds later I was sighted by Joe Z. and a few members from the club. The first words were out of Joe’s mouth mouth were “ We found you” accompanied by a slap on the back, and nervous smiles from the others.
A few jokes of wandering into alleys and how I could have been mugged were thrown into the mix and we made our way back to the bus, which was in the same location that it had dropped me off and was only about a five minute walk from my location on Canal Street. I have no shame in saying I had been walking on the same patch of road for about forty five minutes (Well maybe a little). I asked a girl from Geneseo who was attending what they has seen in the last hour and a half, they said that they had been looking for me the whole time. Jackie DiBella had called the college as well and I later learned that they were about to call the police. I could not help but feel a pang of guilt. The entire time they had been looking for a kid that couldn’t tell the time from his toenails so I quietly sat back in my seat. This had happened to me before with my family in other cities due to a lack in communication but my family usually trusted me to meet them when I meet them but I felt terrible to have everyone so frayed and worried.
The rest of the trip had been thrown by an hour and so was our time in the city. Despite this, the rest of the tour was quite fun and a bit intriguing as well. Steve told stories about his favorite restaurants, how he’s bumped into many celebrities over the years and battles between George Westfield and JP Morgan over electrical outlets. The educational worth was only outweighed by entrainment value. A view of Times Square, Indian dance performers, regular street performers, and a man dressed in a costume of Woody from Toy Story laid the icing on this metaphorical cake.
The last thing I can note, in beauty and in design would be the Brooklyn Bridge after dark. Immaculate and formidable this was the Atheistic Helen of Troy of the trip, for me. My phone had ran out of power from wandering and I took my photos from the bus. We rounded the bridge just one more time for me to get some photos, and I caught some shots just as we left back to town in Batavia.
It was a fun trip regardless of the long time to get there, ambling around vendors from another world, and the melancholy of the museum. Everything had a counterbalance, like with the solemn allure of the museum, the festive air of an NYC festival, or the care of my fellow club members, there was something that made the trip memorable, in a funny off kilter sort of way. I advise anyone and everyone to join this amiable, intriguing club. I haven’t talked to many of the members myself due to my escapade, and would love to meet you there. The next meeting is on Monday, October 6th in T102 from 5:00-6:30pm. There is a cost to join but you can’t be turned away because there is grant money. I hear there will be pizza if any is interested. But remember, the real privilege of this group is its company.