The two new half-finished towers sparkle above, the hot sun beats down and my feet ache as I line up to enter the 9/11 memorial. The volunteer who took the ticket said New York has never been the same since 9/11 – the meeting too brief to tell me more but the comment leaves me thinking. Ahead is an array of security, the ticket is checked, scribbled on, checked again – it’s time for shoes off, coat off, belt off, keys out… you know the drill. In fact before I even get to the memorial I realise that this is the ‘new normal’, one of the irrevocable changes that an event brings. The way a society recalibrates after an event (natural or man-made) is always different – however, this one is a game changer, it reverberates globally.
The memorial pools are set within the original footprints of the twin towers. The scale is impressive as is the care and attention to details (meaningful adjacency of names). The 9/11 museum is also still under construction.
On exiting the memorial I buy my first psychedelic snow cone in over 20 years, sit and reflect. Recovery is a melting pot of agendas, a fine balancing act between speed and quality, dreams and realities, economics and emotions. As the last of my snow cone drips on my sandal I conclude that in some aspects of our Canterbury recovery we must give ourselves the time, the grace and the patience to build meaningfully – so that beauty, strength and sophistication may rise from the rubble. So that ten years on tourists will flock to see our new landmarks and that locals will be proud to give them directions.