New York 2016

June 18, 2016

So there I was at the Greenbelt Metro station at 6am waiting for a bus that was running late. It showed up finally with an apologetic driver, and we were heading north on I-95, stopping off in Baltimore to fill the bus the rest of the way. North we continued along this very familar megalopolitan expressway.

Why do New Jersey on-ramps have “No Turns” signs?

Eventually, the skyline came into view, and we were into the Lincoln Tunnel. I had purchased a ticket for 11:45am entry, and with the late departure, I was cutting it close. The bus stopped at its 33rd Street spot, and I zipped on out of it and over a few blocks to the subway station for the southbound C train. Which, seeing as I was in a rush, seemed to take forever. But it got there, all squeaky and smelly because New York subway, and many stops later I was out at Chambers Street.

Where to now? Well, my destination is rather conspicuous. I got in at 11:45am exactly and was admitted and led to security.

Which, holy crap, made us go through a backscatter machine. How… well, not ironic exactly, but something.

Now walking through what’s made to look like a cave for some reason, and there are the elevators. Short line for that, and up up up, through time, through 102 floors.

To some short film about the city. Then out to a hall to get a guide tablet if desired, and then forcible green screen picture so they can sell it back to you because every damn place seems to have these. Down to the floor below where the restaurant is, as well as a smaller cafe with quicker stuff.

And down one more floor to the observation deck…

And then…

Dear Me on May 2, 1997,

I see you there. You’re standing by the railing at Liberty State Park, gazing at the Manhattan skyline. You’re with your 8th grade class, you just got done visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and now waiting for the rest of the group to return so you can all head home, you’re by the water, staring across at the enormous buildings there. I remember. Taller than any of them were those two, the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center. And you’re feeling determined now that some day you’ll go up there.

Well, for me, today is June 18, 2016, and at this moment, at last, I’m up there, at the top of the World Trade Center. And it is amazing up here!

Of course, you’re probably wondering why it took 19 years. I should point out I’m not on any of the buildings you’re looking at. I’m in that empty space just barely to the left of the north tower. I know after that day, you’ll be hoping for a family trip or something to New York and that you’ll go up then. Well, it won’t happen. In fact, the only time besides now that you’ll see them is in January 2001 while coming back from a trip to Quebec. So, no, you never will go up the towers.

On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers will be destroyed in a terrorist attack, when some terrorists hijack a couple of planes and run them into the buildings and into the Pentagon. About 3000 people died. Far below me right now are two pools where the towers were, with the names of the victims etched in the side, with a memorial museum beside it.

I might also mention that I believe next month you’ll be flying somewhere for vacation. Yeah, enjoy for now the fact that all you have to do is pass through a metal detector to get to your gate, because after those planes get hijacked and run into those buildings, airport security gets a whole lot more complicated.

But I digress. After a rather long time, they finally rebuilt the World Trade Center. Just one building though. That’s the one I’m on right now. It’s called One World Trade Center, or One World for short. I’m currently in the One World Observatory. Yeah, they seem to be stressing the fact there’s only one building now instead of two. I think they should have rebuilt two, I’ve been saying this for so many years, but what are you going to do? In any case, there is a super tall skyscraper here again, and I am on it, gazing down at you 19 years in the past, as you gaze up at me, 19 years into the future.

That’s right! I’m you 19 years into the future. Inconceivably far ahead, but understandably so. Another 19 years from now also feels inconceivably far ahead. It’ll be 2035. Whoa! Anyway, a lot of people talk about wishing to communicate with themselves in the past, to advise what to do and what not to do to avoid some mistake or steer life a different direction. But I’m not going to do that. I remember what was going on with you, and you have enough to deal with as it is without your future self being an uppity bitch blaming you for problems I could just fix for myself now. What I will tell you is that there are a lot of things you’re beginning to notice about the world, and others will get angry with you about it and try to say you’re wrong or that there’s something wrong with you, that you’ll grow out of your habits and convictions. And you know what? As 33-year-old you, let me tell you that you’re absolutely right about almost all of it. In some cases, you just don’t know the half of just how right you really are.

Oh, by the way, The Simpsons is still running. Just finished the 27th season!

Also, DC has a baseball team now. The Washington Nationals. They’re awesome!

Anyway, I have with me one of the pictures of the lower Manhattan skyline you took that day. You took it with a disposable camera, which you took to the grocery store when it was full for the pictures to be developed. Yeah, in my time, we don’t do that anymore. We have digital cameras, where the pictures are just saved as computer files to look at on the computer screen, with SD cards that can hold literally thousands of them, rather than the 24 or so a roll of film in your time allows. Of course, even now digital cameras are a little passe. I’m taking this picture with my phone. Yeah, nowadays we have our own individual cell phones that we take with us everywhere. They’ve gotten fancier over the years, as they are also cameras, with which we can take pictures and send them to others. They have display screens with all sorts of apps to do all kinds of things. Send messages. Look up information. Watch videos. Play games. And so very much more. Our phones are little computers really. Seriously, you’re in for a treat. Technology in my time is pretty awesome.

And since I know you’re wondering, yes, this thing is also a music player. On your bus ride and so many rides after this, you have your walkman with the cassette tapes that you have to rewind and turn over. And CDs to be changed out. Ugh! No more of that. Music tracks are just computer files now to be loaded onto our various devices.

Getting to the point, yes, just as you are right now, of course I’m listening to “The World I Know“. I haven’t changed all that much!

After all, today at last, I have walked up on high and stepped to the edge to see the world below… You know the rest. 😉

Now whenever I can pull myself away from here, I’m heading to Little Italy for some amazing cookies! 😀



I did manage to pull myself away eventually, having with no hesitation said screw it to whatever I had planned for afterward. I think it was already after 3pm when I finally did leave, as I was now cutting myself short on time for the couple of other things I certainly needed to do. I spent all that time circling and circling the observation deck, getting a snack at one point and chatting briefly with one of the guides (mostly asking why there’s some tall skinny building to the north that seems to be taller than the Empire State Building) and buying a key chain and fridge magnet from the gift shop.

So finally back down the elevator and outside.

I was waaay up there.

Khlav Kalash?


Anyway, didn’t I tell my 4-days-shy-of-14-year-old self I had to get some cookies in Little Italy? I did. So back on the train and off at Grand Street and over a few blocks, and there was Ferrara! A couple boxes of yummy deliciousness added to my tote bag later, back on the train.

What a time to be alive.

To Rockefeller Center.

I tried to visit the Lego Store there, but I couldn’t get past the guard.

Are cacti native to New York?

You’ll never guess what street this is on!

Plaque says this upturned pool is Van Gogh’s ear. Okay, understanding a bit more why he cut it off.

My phone and I alike were very hungry (and I wasn’t going to dig into the cookies just yet). I popped into 30 Rock and found a couple of NBC stores with some Friends and Today Show and Olympics stuff for sale, but mostly I needed an electrical outlet. Yeah, I just told 4-days-shy-of-14-year-old me how awesome technology is now, but here I was needing to keep my phone alive as my bus ticket home was on it. 😛

I got a little more charge into it, but I was also running low on time before I had to get back to the bus. But I had to make one stop at the Nintendo Store! If I had more time, I’d have lingered, but I managed to get me a couple of plushies, namely of blue Yoshi and Boo, which 4-days-shy-of-14-year-old me would certainly approve of.

Then racing south several blocks, all the while looking for some place to get food that looked appealing, but what I did stop to look at didn’t look appealing. I hate it when hunger is so picky. I finally just went on into the nearby subway station and hopped on the westbound 7 train to get back near the bus stop.

Hey, Empire State Building.

I finally settled on an unappetizing looking slice of pizza in a city where I should have found an appetizing one very easily. And a can of soda.

My phone was at like 1% charge when I showed the confirmation e-mail so I could board the bus. And this time I sat at a seat that actually had an outlet. Then I opened that can of soda, which I guess got jostled in all that movement, so it sprayed all over me and the person next to me. I think I had some napkins in my bag.

But whatever. The bus departed and went back through the Lincoln Tunnel and south on the New Jersey Turnpike. Behind me, the skyline stood in all its cosmopolitan glory.

Until it was out of sight, and there was nothing but New Jersey to look at. Then Delaware. Then Maryland, and Baltimore, where much of the bus was unloaded, and on back to Greenbelt where my car awaited. I arrived at home around midnight, 19 hours after I left, and then the inside of my eyelids to look at.

Note to self for next time: feed self and phone!

This has been Day 26 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 16.