At 9:07 this morning a man started shooting people on 33rd Street near 5th Avenue. They’re still sorting through who that man was (he was killed by police) and why he started shooting.
That’s not what’s going through my mind.
As soon as I saw the breaking news report I called my Daughter-In-Law; she has family who work on 35th Street and 5th Avenue. Then I called my brother to find out if my nieces were in midtown.
Between those two calls a neighbor called me to tell me her daughter was OK. She knew I’d be worried. Her daughter was in the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 and still has serious anxiety and depression issues as an aftermath of that day. She now works in the Empire State Building – on a low floor she tells people – and we were all concerned that this would be too much for her to handle. Thankfully her co-workers are also survivors of 9/11 and they all helped each other stay calm.
While we spoke on the phone and compared notes of TV coverage of the event, my brother and I started to reminisce about all the times we’d been on that street. I walked down that street almost every day when I worked on 33rd Street and Lexington Avenue (about 4 blocks from the shooting scene); we used to meet at the Houlihan’s in the base of the Empire State Building; my niece worked one summer at the Duane Reade drugstore on 33rd Street. We each know people who work in the Empire State Building now or in any one of the hundreds of stores and offices and restaurants within those few streets.
If you don’t live in New York City you probably see it as the huge mecca for business and tourism that obviously it is.
If you don’t live in New York City it must be difficult to comprehend that streets full of thousands of people milling about are also neighborhoods.
While we navigate the crowds on the way to and from home we pass many strangers.
Yet we also pass the doorman we see every morning; the guy we get our paper and coffee from; the Mom who takes her baby to the park at the same time each morning; the elderly woman who goes to Food Emporium as soon as it opens; the pretty young girl who works in the sportswear shop; the janitor who pulls in the trash cans from overnight pick-up; the woman who walks her dogs before leaving for the office …
These are our neighbors and our friends. New York City is our home in exactly the same way that any smaller city or tiny town is home.
That’s what I was thinking as I watched what seemed like a movie unfold in my home town.
There are already hundreds of photos online of the shooting scene.
I’ll share with you some scenes of the NY I know.
Be careful out there; wherever you are.