Paul and I prefer downtown New York. It’s quiet and narrow and our weekends often include walks from the East River to the Hudson. There’s a little Four Points hotel on Platt Street that isn’t fancy, but simple, clean, and comfortable. It’s our respite from my workdays, and we’ve come to call it ours. Sometimes we also stay at the W, like we did this Friday, but I was relieved to know that Saturday we’d trade that swank for our little Four Points. That’s how much it’s ours.
Every trip downtown includes a walk past the pools. It is here we always pause to reflect on what’s most important. When deadlines and “gotta do’s” cloud my brain, this memorial always brings me back to reality. It is where my perspective shifts, and I realize how minuscule all that stuff can be. And that’s all it really is, right? Stuff.
This Friday while I ran my fingers over these names, a woman tapped my shoulder. I turned with tears in my eyes to see her surrounded by family. She said, “When you’re ready, would you mind taking our picture?” Normally, I would take their phone in my hand, click, and hand it back. Yet, this time, I found it my duty to ask them where they were visiting from. “Boston,” they said. “New Jersey,” I replied. “Enjoy your visit.”
It was just a few words, but it was more than most would converse on the streets of New York.
Yet, it forced me to think. Why did I find it necessary to converse with them? Would I have done the same say, in front of the Brooklyn Bridge? Probably not.
In fact, that theory was tested the very next day. I took an iPhone photo of a dad and his son, the Brooklyn Bridge looming between them in all it’s glory. I handed the phone back and walked away. Paul heard the dad say, “She takes a good picture.” I didn’t ask them where they were from. I just assumed I must look like the most nonthreatening and approachable amateur iPhone photographer.
On Saturday, Paul and I made our second visit to the 9/11 museum. A special exhibition, Comeback Season, Sports After 9/11 was running, and the role the Met’s and Mike Piazza played after this tragedy, inspired our visit.
It was moving.
I read a letter sent to parents of a woman who was scheduled to run a marathon in Philadelphia. They retired her bib number and sent it to her mom and dad. It’s now on display at the museum.
Ironically, a few days before this, I attended the NJ Principal and Supervisor’s Association Conference and listened to Kevin Carroll speak about the importance of play. It helped me understand that sports bring us together more than we realize.
We needed Mike Piazza’s home run after 9/11. I learned that for the first time, some children who lost their dad, smiled. That was Earth shattering for me.
I have a Met’s jersey, given to me by someone who lost their dad in 9/11. The player’s name that dons the back no longer plays for our team, and I’ve always kept it hanging in my closet.
I’m pretty sure, I’ll wear it to Citi Field for the rest of my life…