One World Observatory and Maple Goodness

Today was a completely incredible day! And it was awesome for so many reasons.

So I felt like writing about it.

Last night Davis came home from work and said that he’d have to leave for a quick trip to Boston earlier than expected. These trips are so much more manageable than the ones he’d have to take when we were living in Seattle and he was gone every week for months at a time… no fun for anyone. Instead, he’s home almost every night these days and has to take one-off trips here and there, which we can handle no problem. So with this particular jaunt to Boston, he knew he’d have to go this week, but his time there got shifted around a bit, so he had to fly out tonight instead of tomorrow morning. We’d tentatively made plans tonight and he felt bad that he’d have to miss those, so he proposed a day date instead! (I just want to pause on the excitement of that for a second… he’s pretty wonderful, that husband of mine.)

Of course, it couldn’t be a full day, since both of us needed to get work done. But we did something that we’ve wanted to do for a while: go to the top of the Freedom Tower. Being able to plan with such precision made our trip cheaper (there are different tiers of tickets, and if you know exactly what time you’re going, it can save you a few bucks), and it was fun to be spontaneous!

Both of us had been to Ground Zero before, but not since construction of the museum and Freedom Tower had finished. We were pleasantly surprised to find the park area open. The lack of gates surrounding the courtyard made it feel so inviting and nice. And it was incredible seeing the tower rise above the fountains! But the reality and shock of 9/11 hit me again as I was gazing into the North Tower’s pool. Two skyscrapers stood here fourteen years ago. Two skyscrapers full of people, of lives, of work, of ambitions and dreams and friendships and love. And now they’re gone. There’s this apparent hole in the skyline that they used to fill, which I remember was what hit me the last time I’d visited the site. I was only 11 when the events happened; because I was so young and was living on the other end of the country, I wasn’t fully able to grasp the severity of the situation. But seeing this, and the hundreds of names of all the people lost that surround the pools, it really sinks in. I feel lucky that I didn’t know anyone, but I know people who did. One of my best friends lost her uncle, a firefighter who went up to help. Just thinking about it rips me apart, and I didn’t even know him. You can tell that it’s still a huge part of this city too. I see shirts everywhere saying “Never Forget”. Firetrucks have flags and decals remembering the men and women lost. The topic seems to come up a lot in conversation – where were you, what do you remember.

I feel like I can’t adequately describe my thoughts on this, nor can I properly transition away from it. Without the tragedy, there wouldn’t be the skyscraper we were in this morning. I’d really rather not have the new, shiny building if it meant that thousands of people could have their friends and loved ones back. But as it is, the Freedom Tower now stands tall at the tip of Manhattan, and that’s where we saw the world from today.

And holy moley, it was AWESOME.

The whole experience inside the tower was almost otherworldly. Everything was thought through. It’s so shiny and new, and it gives such a fantastic view of the city. They even made the elevator ride cool. We saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey, and midtown Manhattan, of course. In one of the videos that was shown, some of the builders said that on clear days, they could even see the curvature of the earth from the top. Isn’t that insane?! We spent a good amount of time up there, and I think I significantly confused some Italians when I asked if they’d take our picture (which they did, and I took theirs, and then apologized in Italian because there was no flash and it was too dark… but they gave me blank stares, and I felt bad.). I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting the city or who hasn’t already been – it was a really cool experience. I think we’re hoping to go again when we have family or friends in town.

(One more thing about the tower: there were definitely Disney-like aspects to it, in terms of its thoroughness. The queue kind of had Disney’s famous style of keeping the queuees occupied so they don’t notice they’re waiting. The whole thing felt almost magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if people at Disney helped put some of these pieces together.)

We ate lunch at a nearby burger joint we’d been wanting to try, then Davis said goodbye and headed to the office (and to Boston right afterward… he’ll be back tomorrow night). I spent the afternoon doing some work myself, then I wandered for a while. I’ve taken to doing this, to picking a direction and then just going. It’s helping me get acquainted with the city. There’s just so much to see and do here! Each time I go out, I find at least one more new thing to try. Yesterday I went to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. and had an ice cream sundae. An by “ice cream” I mean frozen fruit turned into soft serve… it was so delicious, and so much healthier than regular dessert! I’m definitely going back there again.

Today I stumbled upon the farmer’s market that was happening in Union Square. We live close by and I’ve walked by it once or twice, but this was the first time I deliberately explored. I stopped at a maple syrup stand and got to know its owner. He was so kind – he gave me a piece of maple candy (which was delicious – I can now see why Ross in Friends was hooked on it!) and let me try some of their out-of-this-world maple cream. This stuff is like autumn in a jar… I had to buy some. I’m going to have to pace myself, because I could see myself eating a ton of this very quickly if I’m not careful. The owner was telling me all about where he and his family live, how it’s not too far away and how beautiful it is. He and his wife were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary this week, and they were just so adorable. The whole experience made me really happy, and something to strive for in our lives. I think I’ll go back and see them again next week.

So yes – that was my day. Simple but outstanding. Part of me still can’t believe we’re actually here. I love how each day is different in this giant new city of ours. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored. Excited to see what tomorrow brings.