Journal Entry 1/5/94
Got up at 7:15. Went to cafe to get a Coke. They gave me a can and a straw. $1.10 for a can of coke.
Rode subway. Not as bad as I thought. It looked cleaner than I imagined it. Trinity Church was pretty, but not as impressive as St. Patrick’s Cathedral. More homeless asleep in the pews. The Christmas Trees were decorated with red and white birds.
I still don’t understand all the principles of stocks and the stock exchange, but the New York stock exchange was impressive despite my ignorance. 1,366 people on the floor – no more, no less. The Federal Hall National Monument was kind of boring. We saw a few sculptures outside.
The World Trade Center was amazing. 50,000 people work there daily and 200,000 people visit daily. We ate at a pizza place. Ick. The whole place was a mall. Then we music majors got rebellious and ventured to the top of the World Trade Center. $4.95, but it was well worth it. 107 floors in about a minute. My ears popped about every five floors. I took some great pictures. Chris, CD, Heidi, Tracey, Scott, Jeanne, and Sherry all went. We were advised against it due to the security – but it wasn’t bad at all. Great – great view.
Got a scoop of vanilla fudge swirl ice cream. YUM!! Rode subway back to hotel.
Went to The Who’s Tommy. WOW!!! AWESOME! I loved it! Everything was put together so well. I bought a program. Phantom was exciting, but sort of a let down after Tommy. I still cried at the end. I’ve always wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Now I have.
I skipped where I ate dinner. The Hard Rock Cafe!!! Yes! I bought an $18 watch. Changed my mind and took it back for a $40 watch. Got a pin too. I’m collecting Broadway Pins for my Hard Rock Jacket. One pin per show. Now I have two.
After the show we had a meeting, then some girls went out for cheesecake. I’m glad I went – the cheesecake was great. I actually walked the streets of New York after midnight. WOW!
It’s 1:25 am and I’m exhausted. Goodnight.
I didn’t know.
How could I?
How could I possibly know the best day of my college trip to New York City would be one of the best days of my life?
Janaway was a college program where you took a trip to a city – usually overseas, New York City was the only trip in the states – and the group researched something cultural about that city and you got college credit for it. It was around twenty college students, our fearless leaders – Dr. Giest and Prof. Yancey, and five or six adult chaperons. The New York City Janaway trip was for fine art credits. I was a music major. I didn’t need any arts credits. But I had always always always wanted to go to New York, and as much traveling as my parents did, we had never made it to the East Coast. I was 19. It was the trip of a lifetime.
On this particular day, the second day of our trip, I saw two of the most amazing Broadway shows ever. Tommy was a phenomenon that has equaled no other thing I’ve ever seen on stage. There was a group of music majors on this trip (all the ones who rebelliously went to the top of the World Trade Center) and we spent the rest of the trip spontaneously bursting into show tunes from the shows we’d seen. Constantly one stanza came up over and over again:
“It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker . . . It’s a boy.
It’s a booooooy, Mrs. Walker . . . It’s a booooooo-ooo-oy. . . A son . . .
A sooooon . . . .
A soooooooooooooon . . . . ”
Recently, my husband and I have been binge watching the fabulous sci-fi television show Fringe. Looking up information on the actors on IMDB.com – I SQUEALED with delight in learning the lead actor in Tommy was on the show. I spent the next hour YouTubeing videos of Michael Cerveris, listening to him sing, and ignoring my husband’s jealous glares at me from across the room. When I told him I saw Phantom on the same day, I think he threw something at me.
I was so moved by the decorations leftover from Christmas at the Trinity Church, that I decided then and there I wanted a Christmas wedding. I was standing at the alter, between two trees decorated with little birds, and I remember thinking a Christmas wedding would be so beautiful. Twenty-one years later, I was blessed with that wedding.
I’ve always loved Hard Rock Cafes. I was so excited to eat at the one in New York. I wore that watch until it broke years later. I still have it.
AND NEW YORK CHEESECAKE. OMG, real New York Cheesecake is the best ever. I was scared to go out that late, but we all huddled together and walked quickly through the swarm of “Wanna Buy a Watch” and “Hey Lady, Look at THIS” people. I remember them being out in droves – in all honesty, it was probably only a handful.
And the World Trade Center.
Our Janaway visit was a year after the first time someone had tried to blow up the World Trade Center, and our professors sternly forbid us to travel to the top that day. They were afraid we’d get bogged down with security and not make it back to the checkpoint on time. I was disappointed, but understood their logic. We had like an hour and a half to grab a bite to eat and explore the area, then we were to report back with the rest of the group. I took off with my music major friends. While we were munching pizza, I remember a discussion about going up the towers. If I remember correctly, there was never any debate. We all simultaneously and spontaneously decided we were going. I weighed my options for a split second. Ever the good-girl, I wanted to obey our professors and was afraid we’d get in trouble. However, if I split from the group I’d be alone in New York City, and that too would be breaking the rules of staying with the group. Plus, I wanted to be rebellious. I was always the kid who never got in trouble. But most of all, I wanted to see the inside of the World Trade Center. I wanted to look down at New York City from the highest building in the country. By the time I finished my greasy pizza, I had made my mind up to join the group and see our adventure through.
Security was nothing. We breezed right on through. I remember being surprised at that – but I suppose it was just a result of that arrogance we Americans had. That no one could touch us. That we were invincible.
On that frigid January day in 1994, this little group of music majors from a tiny little town in the mid-west was invincible. We were breaking the rules! I remember riding the elevator, jumping up and down slightly from nerves and excitement. Did one of us start singing? Probably. We sang the whole time we were there. I remember laughing and excitement, and anticipation and then DING!
The doors opened.
And the observation deck was filled with light.
We all became silent and filed to the windows.
It was a jaw-dropping sight.
I KNOW New York City is huge. It’s the largest city in the United States. I know the numbers. I had walked the streets. I had seen numerous images on television.
Nothing prepared me for this.
The sheer vastness of the city was almost incomprehensible. You couldn’t see where the city ended. It just stretched on and on as far as you could see. I wandered away from my friends, almost in a daze – snapping picture after picture out the windows – North, South, East, West . . . except for water, all you saw were buildings upon buildings upon buildings.
I remember finally pulling my attention from the windows, and looking around to see if my friends were enjoying the sight as much as I was. I looked to my right, and saw them staring out the window next to me, with that rapt attention and respect for the city I had immediately developed from the view. I snapped a picture of them, capturing the moment. . . . proving we were there, 1310 feet in the air.
It looks like a staged picture. Scott is holding a brochure with the World Trade Center on the front, his thumb at the bottom of the picture, almost like he’s carefully making sure he’s not covering up the twin towers for the camera. I don’t think they even knew I was taking the picture – we were all so taken in by the enormity of it all.
And then it was over.
We rode the elevator back down, and met our group with plenty of time to spare.
And then seven years later it was all over.
Like the rest of the world, I sat in front of my television, tears running down my cheeks, watching smoke billow off these beautiful buildings . . . . watching people jump to their deaths . . . then watching in absolute horror as these huge monuments crumbled to dust.
I was on the phone with my mother when it happened. We were both crying. I just kept saying softly over and over, “But I’ve been there. But I’ve been there. But it was real. I was there.”
I got out my photos from my trip and just held them and cried.
I will always hold January 5, 1994 as the best day from that trip – one of the best from my college days – one of the best from my life. It seems so long ago. I wanted to write my memories of it down, and today – 15 years after those beautiful buildings left our world forever – seemed like a good day to do it. In the middle of so much sadness . . . so much grief for that horrible tragedy . . . . I’d like to shine some gratitude and love on those moments who make us who we are. . . and on eight rebellious kids who took off on a small adventure and saw a view that no one will ever see again.