It’s been ages, right? I told you I’d be back telling you more stories about my travels, but then life got in the way—she always does. Months passed, I thought to come back to this, but never seem to find the time. And now even more time had passed, so why going back to it? Because that trip to the USA, together with our honeymoon in Australia—but I’ll be back to this another time—certainly staid in my heart.
I feel bound to the USA by two things. One is the imaginary, my imaginary, the one I built around movies, books, TV series set in the United States I devoured through the years. The other thing are all the friends I met in the past years through the common passion for reading or writing and who reside in the United States. I admit a part of me would like to live there, where they are.
So here I am, talking about it again.
Where we were? Oh, yeah. Our first day in NYC was over, we had taken a tour on the river to see the Statue of Liberty and then we had gone on the Empire State Building to watch the city. But as much as I love the skyline, the view and the feeling of being on top of the world, two other places struck my imagination.
The first was Times Square. An explosion of lights, colours and people. It’s everything that is loud and excessive. It’s joyful and at times overwhelming. You can see blocks of people moving around, their eyes wide open looking around in awe, taking pictures, having a great time. You can see people going through it, eyes pointed in front of them, without giving a second look to the place, too absorbed in other things—new yorkers, for sure.
There are people wearing costumes taking a picture with you for one dollar, young guys trying to sell you tickets for Broadway theatres.
Shops around Times Square are completely crazy. Neon signs change so quickly you have a hard time keeping up with them. There is a toy store with a truly functioning ferris wheel, inside the shop!
Times Square is pure excess. And it’s a symbol, at least for us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Together with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, Times Square is what we think about when someone says New York.
That’s why I simply couldn’t stay away. After being there at Christmas in 2008, I wanted to go back and see if my memory was right. I was almost overwhelmed. It can be a little too much to take at once. But if you manage to find a tiny spot for yourself in that chaos, if you manage to take a second to stop thinking and simply leave the flow rush around you, you can feel it. You can feel the magic.
The other place which holds a special place in my heart is the National September 11 Memorial. It’s filled with crowd, but this time is a quiet and moved crowd. Silence is almost surreal. Have you ever been there? If you haven’t, put it on your bucket list.
Where the Twin Towers once stood, now there is one of the most beautiful and moving memorials I have ever seen. Covering the area where the towers were, there are two square holes, so deep you can’t see the bottom, where water flaws and fall. On the edges, names are carved in the metal. The names of all the victims, not only from the towers, but from the other attacks as well. Around there is a park, with trees and flowerbeds. It’s quiet and beautiful.
I was fourteen on September 11, 2001. I remember it well from watching the news on television. We were horrified, all of us. I still keep the newspaper from the day after. And I had been there in 2008 during our first trip in NYC. At that time there was just a huge construction site, an open wound in the heart of the city. Seeing what they did to replace that hole, to cure that wound, is even more powerful if you have been there before.
A few steps away there’s the new shiny Freedom Tower. We hadn’t the time to go to the top, but the building in itself is worth seeing. It’s amazing, even more if you think it has been built where two skyscrapers has been destroyed. I don’t think any other country in the world would have been that brave.
But the surreal thing was hearing parents telling their children, born after 2001, what happened there. I hadn’t realised before there are children and teenagers who don’t know how it was before.
Now it’s almost the time of the year when you start planning vacations, if you already haven’t. What are your plans for this summer? What adventures are you going to live?
I’m going to tell you about the other two parts of our journey in the United States soon—promised , this time it’s going to be soon.