Windows on the World
We make our way to the rooftop—the windy ceiling of the city where antennas and satellite dishes silently send our images, news and entertainment to the synthetic birds orbiting the earth. On this clear evening, we can see nearly a hundred miles in every direction from lower Manhattan.
“We're as high as airplanes,” my date says, pointing eye level to an airplane in the distance. The wind pulls at the tiny hairs on her long, slender, outstretched arm. She doesn't point as much as her arm swims in the wind. Working in textiles and modeling, she moves the way Indian silk flows in the wind. I am compelled to kiss her and say something romantic.
“In high winds this tower sways nearly a foot,” I tell her awkwardly, not able to think of something romantic to say.
“Don't tell me things like that—just have fun,” she says.
I gently pull her close to me. In her heels, she is almost taller than I am, which always reminds me to stand up straight. I kiss her smiling lips.
“Shrimp scampi?” a waitress offers.
Looking down on Manhattan from the top of the world, we can no longer see the dingy streets below swirling with tornadoes of trash while pedestrian and automobile traffic stampedes through the streets. From the top of the world, it is easy to forget the urine-scented homeless who dig through the garbage looking for a sliver of pizza, a bite of an old hot dog or a stale doughnut. We can't hear the shrieking subway squeals. We can't smell the peppery exhaust of the trains, cars, and buses. In the distance, I see a flock of seagulls dodge a helicopter like prey evading a predator. As we stand as high as eagles fly, challenging Mother Nature's inherent laws, I wonder if we human beings wish for wings, but instead must build our way to the sky.
While a waiter refills our Champagne glasses, we notice a VIP tour on the roof of the other tower that is Two World Trade Center, just a stone's throw away. A handful of well-dressed business people follow a woman around the roof of the building. Unlike our building that has a protective fence surrounding the edge, nothing stands between these individuals and a sloping roof edge. As we watch, a young man in a blue suit splits off from the group and walks alone to the edge of the building. While the rest of his group meanders across the rooftop, he steps onto the slanted brim and inches carefully forward until it appears his toes dangle off the edge of the building. All that stands between him and a 1,300-foot, 110-floor fall is a wisp of Mother Earth's breath from the wrong direction, or a slight slip of his footing. The young man stretches his arms out to his sides and now appears as a crucifix against the blue sky, transforming Two World Trade Center into a cathedral of commerce. The young man gazes down the side of the building challenging vertigo, as if pondering a plunge from this altitude before stepping back away from the edge of the building. He rejoins his group and I wonder what could inspire him to take such a risk with no apparent reason.
My date and I decide to digest the pink sunset from the dining room. Frank Sinatra, his voice as smooth as cognac, still echoing from his hometown across the river in Hoboken, NJ, summons us to the dance floor. Spinning in circles to the swinging big band sounds of “New York, New York,” we can no longer distinguish the blinking lights of the city and the sparkling gleam of the stars in the sky. For a night, we were on top of the world.
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