“I can’t believe its been ten years already” said my bar regular Rob. I looked up to see one of CNN’s 9/11 specials playing on the TV.

“Were you in New York when it happened?” I asked.

Rob looked away from the television and with a somber expression, he told me “I was on the 73rd floor of the South Tower when the second plane hit.” My heart sank immediately for the kind man who always ordered two Modelo Especials on his way home from work and tipped me way more than necessary. “Go ahead” he said “I know you probably have a list of questions you want to ask me.”

“I wouldn’t know what to ask” I replied. Of course I was curious. More than anything, I just wanted to know that he was alright with all the media attention the 9/11 decade had been getting lately.

“I was in a meeting” he said. “On the 73rd floor when we felt it….” he trailed off and looked outside for  a bit. “A buddy of mine and I carried an old man down the entire way. People were pushing us so hard, jumping the railings trying to get by.” He looked at me and said “There were so many guys that day I knew… what are you like 24?” I nodded. “Interns younger than you that didn’t make it out. They had their whole lives ahead of them.”

I grabbed his second beer while he continued. “We were stuck downtown for over two weeks… a bunch of us, just hanging out at this guy’s apartment. We couldn’t walk down the street without getting turned around by the military. That was the thing” he said ” there were army tanks everywhere, it was surreal, but what had happened was, well…” he took a pause for a drink “We literally only had Grey Goose and crackers for that entire time, it was disgusting and boy I’ve never been that drunk in my life.”

When Rob told me he no longer worked for Morgan Stanley, I asked him what he currently did. He replied “I still manage money, a little differently… but now I work a few blocks that way.” He pointed toward the Empire State Building. “You know, I’m more in charge of my time these days.”  He guzzled the last of his second beer, said thank you and left down 29th Street.

Later that day, I went home and saw Spike Lee’s State Farm Commercial featuring a children’s chorus singing “Empire State of Mind” and cried uncontrollably for about ten minutes. I suddenly came to the realization that there is literally an entire generation of people– they’re children now but will be managing our bank accounts tomorrow– who were born after 9/11, who have never known a world without heightened security and the pitiful religious stigma we now carry in this country.  I thought of my own nephew who was born two and a half years after the terror attacks and how, to him, this event will be remembered by pictures in his history book and by the video references television specials he’ll see will make.

When I was feeling a range of emotions for the victims- both living and gone- of 9/11, I got a phone call from my friend Christina inviting me over for food and drink at her place, which is only about three blocks from the old World Trade Center Site. When I got out of the subway, I walked through a mass of tourists with cameras and American flags walking about the area as dozens of NYPD officers patrolled the area.

As usual, Christina was her charming, bubbly self and poured me a stiff vodka drink with a splash of soda and orange juice. “Just let the ice melt!” She said cheerfully. Her usually curly brunette locks were straightened to my surprise. Not that this is irregular for her, I just find that her curls are as much a part of her personality as her constant excitement. We decided to leave her apartment to visit a few places in the West Village for “research” as part of a project Christina is conducting (details will follow eventually… you may have to wait a year for this one, but it’s good;-).

When we got out of the cab on 7th Avenue near Grove Street, Christina pointed downtown “look at the lights.” I turned to see the new One World Trade, still far from finished, but fully lit, and already redefining the NYC skyline. We both stopped in our tracks.

“Its beautiful” I said. “I can’t believe that standing here 10 years ago you could see…”

“I know” said Christina.

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