September 11

Buried in the top drawer of my dresser at home is a tiny little pink plastic cup, one that collapses, with worn-off gold metallic printing on the lid. I picked it out when I was four years old, from a little spinning souvenir rack covered with magnets and key chains. I had just come inside from the 107th floor observation deck of a new building, one just about my age.

My sister was still out on the deck, looking through the binoculars. When she came in, cheeks flushed from the wind, I showed her the little pink cup, how quickly it opened and closed. She read the printing on the lid ---Top of the World. “Are we really on the very top?” we asked our parents. They smiled. “Just about.”

Who wouldn’t have felt, looking out at the “air bridged-harbor that twin cities frame”, that the world was windy and infinite and that they were on top of it? Who wouldn't have believed that enchanting stories had been and would continue to be written against the backdrop of that dark ocean and that endless sky? Who wouldn’t have agreed, standing at the top of that impossible building, that impossible dream of glass and steal, that they lived at an amazing time in an amazing place, that anything really was possible, that the whole unreal and radiant city stretching out in every direction below them promised incredible things?

And yet I couldn't stop playing with the little pink cup, on the elevator ride down, on the taxi ride home, and later that night. Strange, that childlike sense of wonder, that looks with almost equal regard on a beautiful wide sky and miniature stretching city, on a fairy tale building so tall it scraped that sky, and on a little plastic cup found at the very top. How easily it collapsed in on itself, and rose back up each time.


  1. And who could have imagined that the cup would survive the buildings?


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