New york city has been an emotional trip for me. Nerve wracking, frustrating, joyfilled and sadening. Mostly sadening.
The 9/11 memorial was a much more sobering experience than I had anticipated. I expected the magnitude of it and the excitement of the one world trade center freedom tower to keep me removed from the tragedy of it. I was wrong.
I still remember where my 18 year old self was standing watchinging helplessly as the second plane flew toward the towers. Now I am not American…never have been, but at the time I could tell something was happening that would change all of north america and probably the world. I remember feeling alone and also feeling instantly connected to everyone around me, particularly my friends from the U S that I had just met for the first time 7 days earlier.
Those emotions returned as I stood by the pools where the towers once stood as I walked slowly reading name after name and trying to image the faces of countless people I had never met.
Some had been carefully wiped clear after the early morning rain others were adorned with white roses and still others held the attention of passersby. At first I didn’t want to photograph names I stuck to photographing titles like “engine 40” and “world trade center”, but the more I tried to frame shots around these words the more I realized I was trying to remove myself from what happened. The more pictures I took the more certain names stuck out aided by the shallow depth of field I was using.
One name grabbed me and held me for a long time Sara M Clark a single rose sat in the center of her name held by the relief of the carved metal. The contrast of near black finish and white rose was an image too strong to be ignored. At first I didn’t take any pictures I just stared trying to absorb the weight of what I was seeing visually and emotionally. I wanted to experience to feel not just document as so many of the visitors seemed content to do. Don’t get me wrong I documented a number of scenes at groubd zero to take home to share with my family but in this moment I held back. Contemplating and absorbing as much as I could. I cried. I tried to hide it to choke it back but my eyes filled with water. I turned away to see a young girl being comforted by friends as she sobbed uncontrollably. I cried some more. Not uncontrolled tears of grief but tears of genuine sadness of remorse of anger.
I tried to capture the simplicity and contrast as best I could. The cold lifeless metal and the beautiful rose. The irony that the monument would stand long after the rose faded and turned to dust. The black shiny metal and the soft rose. And the name etched there in history a face unknown to me but loved by someone yet a monument to all.
I was going to write about more of the sad experiences I had in nyc becuase I think the experience has changed me but now is not the time.
I mean no disrespect to the family, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that her name impacted me so deeply.