It took me a while to get out of the apartment this morning. I pack the night before I leave, but in the morning, I still have to deflate the air mattress, fold up all the bedding, clean out the refrigerator, take out the trash, and clean. Last week I took a cab to work, but today, I couldn’t find one. I stopped at 7th Avenue and again at 6th, which was weirdly devoid of cars altogether (it turned out to be due to a road block where the police were stopping cars and checking them for bombs). I walked to Fifth Avenue and headed uptown.
At 14th street, I noticed that there was a red plastic cup standing on a piece of white paper in the middle of the sidewalk. As I looked up the street, I could see that there were other cups, extending in a long row as far as I could see. I stopped to look at the first one. Here is what it said:
In observance of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Illegal Art has marked each of the 110 floors on the sidewalk with chalk, starting at 5th Avenue and 14th street and heading north for 1,368 feet (417 meters), the height of the taller of the two towers.
Passersby, like yourself are encouraged to walk the height of the once standing buildings along 5th Avenue and write any words that expresses [sic] your feelings or experience related to 9/11
The cups held white sticks of chalk. All along the sidewalk, the floors were marked off. Each floor marking had a cup of chalk. All along, there were messages. Names of the dead. Messages to them. Celebrations of Bin Laden’s death. There was a message thanking the spouses of gay firefighters and apologizing for overlooking them. On many floors were written things like “We will never forget.”
It was incredibly moving and powerful to walk the height of the towers. At the top, just before the intersection of 5th Avenue and 20th street, was written in enormous letters slanting up to the right, SKY.
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Friday mornings, my company treats us all to bagels and croissants. Normally everyone gets here early for breakfast, but today everyone was late. Reports of road blocks and searches in the subway were running around the office. The Herald Square subway stop was apparently closed to all the lettered trains. It took everyone a while to get in.
As a result, I left extra time to get to the airport, expecting to be stopped at the tunnel and again at airport security. But it turned out to be a breeze. LaGuardia is weirdly quite this sunny Friday afternoon, which is fine by me. I am ready to be home.