Day Three: Hostel Territory
I pooped roughly seven times the following morning. And by roughly seven times, I mean I pooped seven times and they were all rough. Presumably it was once for each buck of the seven dollar pizza. I hadn’t quite paid double for it at the time, but I definitely did in the end.
In spite of the day I had just endured, I was up before eight o’clock. Once I’d voided what I hoped was the last bit of liquid from my body and gotten my throbbing leg strapped in, I set off for nowhere; this was my designated full day for exploring and with my knee already slowing me down, I wasn’t interested in wasting a minute more than necessary. When I stepped outside I was pleased to find it brisk rather than frigid. I popped into a nearby grocery store for some of that Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt I hoped would reset my digestive system and headed for the trusty subway station. On the way there, my first destination came to me: Ground Zero.
They say everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 and for me that’s true. I was in Ms. Biggs’ English class when an office aide came in and delivered the news that all after school activities were cancelled and briefly explained why. I also remember thinking, “Why should I care?” In my defense, I was an angry pop-punky teenager who didn’t know and didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone I didn’t know (and not many of the ones I did either). Also I wasn’t really sure what the World Trade Center was. One of the many downsides of being from a tiny Texas town with no TV. Thankfully a decade of college, cable, and high-speed internet had changed that. Maybe it was residual guilt or maybe it was contemplative mood I found myself in, but I felt it was a good way to spend the first morning of the New Year.
It wasn’t. Turns out you had to buy tickets to see the memorial in addition to reserving them in advance for some reason. Yes the site still looked to be under construction, but apparently charging admission was going to be a thing even after it was done as a way to ensure it stays maintained (you literally pay your respects). Instead I found a good bench in the tower’s shadow with a view of Lady Liberty in the distance and had my moment of silence there instead. No one was out save a few dedicated joggers (or new ones making good on their resolutions). With a shopping center opening up in the future, I like to imagine that was one of the quieter mornings this spot would ever see. So it wasn’t a complete bust.
Afterwards I just walked the streets for a while which was equally as nice. It was undoubtedly one of the more upscale areas I’d been without being packed with people or commercialized to hell. The busiest spot was of course Wall Street where the tourists were out taking pictures for reasons I can’t fully comprehend. There was a really gnarly-looking old church nearby that was much more interesting to look at, though selfies with the tombstones is probably discouraged. At one point I ended up taking the train back up towards Central Manhattan and was pleasantly surprised to find little bronze sculptures strewn about the station. I later found out they’re the work of artist Tom Otterness’ Life Underground project with over 100 of these guys depicting life in NYC in comical/political fashion.