When in New York there are lot of things that I would call tourist experiences, seeing the Empire State Building, breakfast at the Loeb Boathouse at Central Park or even catching a show on Broadway. These are all things you should do if you come here since they are all part of the quintessential New York experience. However, there is one experience which I would not class as a tourist experience and that is the 9/11 Memorial, it is something I don’t think people set out to see as part of their New York itinerary, they simply find themselves there as part of wandering around the financial district. The geopolitical arguments as to why such as event could occur and the idiot conspiracy theories hold no currency for me because it is a site if enormous tragedy and like all these monuments to consequences of our violent nature they hold great power and they remind us that whilst we are temporary the memory of us is not. We live on in the lives of others and as such we have a form of immortality but this immortality of memory is a reflection of who we were in life.
The photo I snapped above is of the name of one of the victims of 9/11 – it caught my eye simply because the vibrancy of the colour of the flowers clashed so starkly with the sombre nature of the memorial. For those who have not seen the memorial it consists of two massive reflection pools that show the footprint of the two towers, the water from these pools flows into a representation of the lift shafts of the old building. Along the wall of the pools are etched in bronze the names of all those who died on that day in each of the towers. The names of emergency works that died rushing into the buildings as they collapsed are marked by the fire company or service they belonged to.
The flowers were placed on the name of David Michael Barkway who was 34 at the time of his death. What caught my eye was not that someone remembered David and placed these flowers here for his memory but that their memory they have of him is marked by flowers of tremendous vibrancy and colour – the energy of which my photograph does not do justice to. They clash so beautifully and so starkly with the dark tones of their surrounds. Transcending their own pain they left a small piece of beauty for others. David had left something behind, something so indelible and timeless that even the events of 15 years ago could not snuff it out. The person who left those flowers and all the others next to names could not have known that at the time they said goodbye to them that it would have been the last goodbye and that they would slip forever from their grasp. Each time we say goodbye we leave something behind, a memory, a piece of ourselves that the other person holds onto either consciously or subconsciously. The echo of each of our interactions is for us to control since each goodbye is a small death – we are removed from those we want to spend time with. We choose what our echo will be and what sort of mark we will leave on those we say goodbye to.