Dinner at Windows on the World, 1998
When I was younger, I don’t remember feeling sad in August. As summer waned, I looked forward to September: crisp nights, new school supplies, and thick. back-to-school fashion magazines.
But for ten years now, as September approaches, I get this feeling of dread. I hate any date after August 15. I hate how the days get shorter and I hate the back to school commericals. It’s all leading to that one black day. Even the birthday of my youngest child on September 3, 2003 can’t erase it.
I guess that is just how it’s going to be from here on in: there will be the years before September 2001, and everything after. And a decade later, the emotions are no less raw.
I cannot imagine what thesee weeks leading up to September 11 must feel like if you’ve lost a loved one or friend on that day. Just knowing that day is coming without having directly lost someone is painful enough. But to all of us in the Metro Area who grew up watching them being built, and then, watched them tumble down, we truly did lose something profound that day.
This memory is one trivial, stupid sliver of before and after September 11, 2001. But I am sure it is just one of the millions of memories and associations that New Yorkers share about what role the physical presence World Trade Center had in their own memories.
This is not about what I remember from that day, but what I remember about what is no more.
In the spring of 1998, I was invited to dine at Windows on the World. It was not a romantic dinner like one portrayed in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Windows on the World was the spot for the 1998 CIPRA public relations award dinner. The account team I worked on at my public relations firm had won the CIPRA Golden Anvil Award for our Deep Blue IBM campaign.
It was the glitziest night of my very brief career as a PR professional in Manhattan. Our boss hired a limousine to take us from our Park Avenue offices downtown to the World Trade Center. After the team piled in, we sipped champagne as the driver navigated down the FDR.
I remember taking the elevator up, up, up, and feeling that drop in my stomach the same way I did when I was a child and visited the Observatory Deck with my parents and grandparents.
I don’t quite remember what we ate. I do remember sitting next to my boss, the owner Technolgy Solutions Public Relations. A great, genuine guy who built his firm from the ground up in the high-tech boom of the 1990’s, I was humbled to sit next to him as he explained how he was avoiding eating the bread that night because he was on a new, low carb diet. I also remember how proud he was of us of us that night to be sitting on top of the world at this prestigious dinner in our industry, and how appreciative our clients were that night of the tireless work we did for IBM’s Deep Blue chess-playing supercomputer.
That was the last time I was ever at the World Trade Center. And when you were up there at sunset, you really were on the top of the world.