Put your hand the gearshift
Put your foot off the break
and take one last look at the place that you are leaving.
Take one last look.
Oh take one last look at the place that you are leaving.
Take one last look.
– Tom Waits
This is the fourth in a series of posts about New York; a guest post by my friend Smplefy.
Tom Waits debuted this song on one of the last Letterman shows. It resonated with me and got me thinking about New York. The crowd energy on Letterman always made it clear that the show was filmed live in New York City. That show is gone now. One the other hand Jimmy Fallon brought the Tonight Show back to New York. That’s a microcosm of New York right there, with things and people coming, going, redefining, repurposing, reinventing.
In 1995 I stood on Statue of Liberty Island and took a picture of my wife, Laura with the Twin Towers prominently displayed in the background. That black and white 8×10 still hangs in our living room.
During a visit to that same island in August 2001, Laura asked if I wanted to retake that picture. Wanting to conserve film and oblivious to the events just weeks away, I callously said, “No, I already have that picture”.
On this 30 May, 2015, I stood in line at the opening of the One World Observatory, an observation deck on the 103rd floor of One World Trade Center. This beautiful and sexy building stands adjacent to the site of the lost towers, where two solemn memorial fountains remain.
The observation deck presents the visitors with a 360º view of the city and surrounding areas. The views of New York were beyond breathtaking on a clear day. I was giddy as I saw all of Brooklyn spread out before me in one direction. Standing there I could make out Prospect Park and could see all the way to what I thought should have been Coney Island.
Brooklyn from the One World Observatory (click to expand)
Along another wall was Manhattan in all its glory with its landmarks and beautiful bridges beauty. Just over there was Queens and back there was Staten Island in yet another direction. I sat on the floor for a while in each direction, seeking out and studying the landmarks like I was taking some type of a test that I had been studying my whole life for.
Manhattan from the One World Observatory (click to expand)
I was told many years ago, that if you want to take a great picture of the Statue of Liberty, you have to find a unique way to take it. The view of the Statue of Liberty from of the observation deck was unlike any I’d ever seen before. It eventually struck me that this was how many in the World Trade Center used to see the Statue of Liberty on a daily basis. That realization brought me pause and brought me back to the tragedy. That’s the thing about this observation deck, it exhilarates and it reminds us.
I circled the observation deck several times during my visit. In my last moments there, I got up close to the glass and discovered a view of the 9-11 Memorial fountains I hadn’t seen before. It was an unexpected surprise to see a new angle on what is a relatively recent addition to New York.
As much as I would have enjoyed staying to see the sunset, I had a plane to catch. I kept seeing the One World Trade Center from various points along the train ride to New Jersey. It seemed to be waving goodbye and inviting me back.
And when I settled on my plane, while the other passengers were still boarding, I looked out window and there she was again, following me in her twinkling dress. With Tom Waits’ voice in my head, I took one last look at her and the place that I was leaving. I tried to take in the moment and hold it before the plane took me away from this day to start a new adventure, elsewhere.
Foolish is the man who loves places and things, for that love shall be unrequited. The Twin Towers were a source of pride for New York and then they were taken from us along with so many of the strangers that were part of the New York family. These two buildings in this city that I hold dear have not been replaced, but the space has been repurposed to remind us of all we have, what we have lost and what we hold dear. I don’t mean the girders, rebar and concrete, but the spirit, the enterprise, pride and love of ourselves and one another.
Welcome to the New York family, One World Trade Center. Be great.