20 November 2005

A modest proposal

I had no plans for Friday night. I'd been out every night last week, including on a date with a promising Welshman; a quiet night in seemed in order. I checked my email at 7 o'clock to find that the promising Welshman had replied to my reply of his email. Earlier in the day he was so happy to have met me, and here was the link to that English carol we were talking about. By 7pm, though, it was over. He'd love to hang out with me again, and thinks I'm terrific, but "wasn't sure we had much 'chemistry'", and he hopes "that makes sense."

I don't need sympathy for the lost promising Welshman. He was cute and smart, but after one evening, I didn't sense he was the love of my life. What I need sympathy for, however, is this lack of chemistry thing. Why is it that lately I only seem to have it with men who are, ultimately, unavailable, whether because they're with someone else or they've just gotten out of another committed relationship, or they saw their father bludgeon their mother to death when he was a child. (That last one actually belongs to a friend of mine.)

Faithful readers will know that I love to listen to other people's conversations on the street -- and really, if they're not going to keep their voices down while they're on the phone, can't we assume they want me to listen? -- and this weekend I've been overhearing a lot of conversations that go like this, "I really like him; we hit it off really well the other night; I'm just not sure what he thinks," or "He's so great, so perfect for me; I haven't heard from him yet, but I'm sure he's going to call this week."

What is wrong with us??? Men do not have these conversations with their friends, or if they do, they have the good sense to have them in private, where other people can't laugh at their naivete. I'm guilty of having them myself, but at least I'm aware that when I say, "he was really fun," after a date there's a pretty good chance that I just doomed myself to an "I'm not sure we had much 'chemistry'" (quotation marks and all) email the next day.


I was in a bad mood. Not disconsolate, not despairing. Just a little sad and in need of a treat. What better way to treat myself than to buy something pretty. I'll show you, Mr. Jones (all Welshman are named Jones); a flouncy skirt later, and you are fading from memory.

I went down to Century 21, on Church Street, whose motto is "New York's Best Kept Secret". I'm not sure who it's a secret from anymore, because everyone and his credit-card-carrying uncle were there yesterday. It was much too crowded to give the racks anything but a cursory peruse. I was out on the street after not too long.

When I used to go to the Financial District, I'd emerge from the subway and look up. In an unfamiliar part of town, the Twin Towers made it clear which way was south. Century 21 was right next door. Now, of course, there is no such clear landmark, and more than once I've walked several blocks in the wrong direction.

The pit where the World Trade Center once stood is still fenced off, but around that fence is an exhibition of sorts. Placards telling the story, listing the names of the dead, discussing the future plans for the site. I know many people who haven't been down there since 9/11, but it's being there has never really bothered me. I have my flashbacks at loud noises, and even though I can't help but think about that day when I am in the area, it's only in a general way.

The plans for the site are still in flux, and I'm glad. Maybe people will come to their senses. I hate the idea of building another gargantuan building, full of offices and retail stores we don't really need. The cultural center that was to be part of the public space has been scuttled. The families of the victims wanted assurance that only 9/11-specific art and culture would be on display, and no artistic director is going to agree to that kind of restriction.

It occured to me yesterday that the perfect thing to do with the space would be to leave it unbuilt-upon. A pit, but not one that is fenced off. People could descend to a town green of sorts. The walls could commemorate the day, but otherwise, it would just be trees, and grass, and benches. A fountain or two. Why do we need to build something similar to what was there? Why does "not letting the terrorists win" mean recreating exactly what they took from us? That can't be done.

Wouldn't a space where people came together, to rest, to contemplate, to play, show anyone who cared that we're a civilized, thoughtful, progressive people who cannot be destroyed? There are so many other office buildings in that area. All their workers would gather in the green at lunchtime. Street musicians would be naturally drawn there, and the tourists would still come to spend their money at Century 21. It would be a little oasis of oxygen in a part of town that doesn't have many parks.

Why not?


Blogger Pedestrian Rage said...

Dear Excellent Walker: Are you ever writing in your blog again?

Check Every Day to No Avail

10:01 PM  

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