4:33 p.m. - 1990-10-15
10/6/2001 - New York City
I want to write a eulogy for the twin towers. I know that people are more important than buildings, and that the loss of a single life is more tragic than the loss of some buildings, but nonetheless I want to try to write my own remembrance of these buildings. From my rooftop the twin towers were the only buildings that dominated the skyline. In fact from all of lower Manhattan they were the only skyscrapers that you could always see. They were always there, always pointing the way south. If you would ever come up out of the subway and feel disoriented all you would have to do is to locate the twin towers to gain your bearings.
They were always south, unless you were lying in the grass in Battery park, then they were east. So every morning they would be waiting for me. I would go up to my roof and see them quietly standing there.
They were so unique. Like a brother and sister. Ancient and modern at the same time. Two giant sentinels standing silent watch over Manhattan and all of New York.
The most amazing thing about the twin towers was that they cast shadows on each other. And passing clouds would cast shadows on them. It was so beautiful to see.
I would oftentimes sit on my roof and watch big clouds floating by and casting shadows on the twin towers. The towers would stand there silently and the clouds would float by and gracefully cast shadows on the towers simple exteriors. I spent so much time in the towers or in their shadow. One of my favourite things to do was to go to Battery park late on a summer night and lie in the grass with the Hudson river at my feet and the twin towers behind me. You could lie in the grass with warm breezes coming off of the river and hear the sound of boats and look up and see these two 110 story buildings standing quietly behind you.
And the number of times that I went up to 'Windows on the World', which was on the 107th floor. I went up there for weddings and for parties and on dates and, invariably, with friends who were in from out of town. I had danced up there and gotten drunk up there and laughed up there and sang and played piano up there (and even had sex in the bathroom once...). I remember one night standing at a window on the 107th floor and looking at clouds BELOW me. The clouds were very low that night and the 107th floor was above the tops of the clouds. That was amazing. And the clouds were glowing from the lights of Manhattan below them.
And the towers were so beautiful. Not everyone thought so, but I thought that they were the most beautiful skyscrapers in the world. So spare and elegant. So massive, but also delicate at the same time. I once had an argument with an architect about the architectural merits of the twin towers. He maintained that they were 'bad architecture.' He maintained that working in them was difficult and that the light inside the offices wasn't very good. My point was that they were perfect and graceful, massive buildings that were also studies in understatement. Cathedrals of secular aspiration. And I can't help but think that Yamasaki (the architect who designed them) saw them as having an almost zen quality in their lightness and stability. And how could buildings be 'bad architecture' when they were familiar to every single citizen of the world? How could they be 'bad architecture' when millions of us looked at them every day, casting shadows on each other and reassuring us?
Aesthetically I really loved them. I loved that they were a pair. I loved that they stood at strange angles to each other. I loved to go up close to them and touch them. I loved to sit at their base and look up and get instant vertigo. One time I went into an architectural book store to see if they had any books on the twin towers or on the architect who designed them. The snobby architecture student at the cash register said, 'we only have books about serious architecture here. Why don't you try Barnes and Nobles.' Which I did. And I looked on the web as well, but I couldn't find any books about these buildings. So I bought a few books on skyscrapers that had photos of the twin towers (this was 3 years ago). Now I hope that someone will finally put out a book about the twin towers. I want to remember them as they were, in all of their grace and beauty.
I do feel slightly guilty writing a eulogy for 2 buildings when there's been so much loss of life. In no way do I intend for my little eulogy to take away from the human tragedy that occurred when these buildings were destroyed. As I said earlier, the tragic loss of a single life is of more significance than the loss of a hundred buildings. But I loved these buildings so much, and I wanted to remember them here.