There’s going to be lots of tributes and discussions today on the 7th anniversary of September 11th. I remember being asleep and hearing the word ‘bomb’ on the radio. I immediately jumped up cos when you live in earthquake land a prompt response is necessary. I had no idea what was going on and still groggy I turned on the tv and saw my world split in two. I had left NYC for good just 2 years prior due to the mass gentrification and lifestyle crackdown imposed by the Mayor and Big Business takeover.
I was born in Upstate New York and had moved to NYC after completing high school to pursue my dreams of being a working actor. I loved loved loved NYC. The dirt, the grime, the smells, the fast pace, the heightened sense of danger lurking around every corner was intoxicating. This was a NYC post-bankruptcy but before the subsequent rent hikes. When you’d still see homeless people on the streets and people squatted old abandoned buildings. I never had any money but felt so rich in culture and always had something to do. I always felt the presence of two angels by my side and the hope of a great future so it was a heady experience.
I went to Windows on the World restaurant a few times and it was always a treat. They definitely enforced their dress code so it was a great date night excursion. The view was second to none! I always felt a little nervous about being so high up. The expanse of the lobby to the elevators took several minutes to walk. The World Trade Center buildings were definitely a testament to phallic glory and a staple of lower Manhattan. There was a great historical and old world feeling to the entire neighborhood with City College bordering the water and the Staten Island Ferry within walking distance.
I am so glad I lived there during that time. I was lucky in that I never paid more than $400 for rent – of course I had to live with at least two other people at all times to do so. We were able to still find a rent-controlled apartment or share with a long-term resident. I consider it NYC’s golden age. I haven’t been able to go back since. I fear I won’t recognize the city anymore. It was already undergoing its metamorphosis from being bohemian with rich people to being all rich all the time. The fail safes for moderate earners are a thing of the past with Metropolitan Life selling Stuyvesant and the Salvation Army selling two of its women’s residences.
This is indicative of a bigger trend across the country where it seems the laws of the jungle prevail. It’s now survival of the fittest – or really the luckiest. As long as you have some connection where you can get a leg up or someone with means to float you a mini-loan you’ll be fine. Just don’t get sick! There is nothing wrong with struggling, but at what point does it becomes a never-ending cycle of futility? If everyone is out for themselves and big business rules where does that leave the rest of us?
When those Towers fell we were horrified and outraged. We felt an injustice had occurred. We rallied together. We took care of each other. There were a few days when it seemed the collective was united and focused on being there for each other. So what happened?
I really hope people take the time to remember what is really important and what is at stake. Our choices will determine the course this country will take in the next few years. We can build each other up or tear each other the shreds and continue to step on people as we focus on ourselves only. I hope we make the right decision.