What can I say? There is only one New York and – love it or hate it – there is no place like it.
I wish I could say I was well acquired with this Grand Lady, but I’m not. My time in NY was limited to less than 24 hours on a stopover over 15 years ago, but it was highly memorable … made all the more so by the events of 9/11 that followed.
We were in New York in the summer of 1999. We had been on the road for 10 days … it was hot, we were tired and ready to go home.
With our very short layover, we did as many tourist-y things as possible – Central Park, Apollo Theatre, ferry to Staten Island, Empire State Building. It was a blur of activity, but there were some very significant impressions that were left behind.
Living in Toronto, I was no stranger to traffic, but THE NOISE!! No picture can convey the noise that greeted us. It was a detail we were completely unprepared for and little Misha – 11 years old at the time – clung uncharacteristically to me, like he was afraid of being swallowed up in the controlled chaos.
We often hear about the ornery harshness of New Yorkers but my memory of one particular incident is in complete contrast to that stereotypical image. We were planning to get around by subway and Misha encountered some difficulties with his subway pass.
It was rush hour and hundreds of people were rushing past us as he struggled with his pass. Misha had panicked in the scramble and *froze* in front of the turnstile causing a backlog behind him. A well-dressed man, obviously on his way to work with his briefcase in hand, stopped and calmly explained to Misha what he needed to do.
If he hadn’t rushed off in a hurry, I could have hugged him on the spot. This kind man defused both Misha’s and my anxiety in a few simple words during a very stressful moment for both of us.
Only 2 short years later, the World Trade Centre would be attacked. We sat with our young boys, and our photos of this short excursion into New York, trying to make sense of the unimaginable happening on the TV in front of us.
Some memories become more precious than others. For us, New York falls in the category of very precious indeed.
All photos in this post were taken by Gilles.