So sayeth the tour guide at Ground Zero last Sunday morning...and little did I know that THAT particular statement would resonate with me later when I encountered the strangest coincidence...like...ever.
Let me back up, if you will...
I had the day off from disaster relief on Sunday, and I decided to head back to New York City - again - to spend another day exploring everything that the Big Apple has to offer. Well. Not everything. Yikes - you need more than one day to explore NYC...heck, you'd probably need a YEAR or two, at the very least - but I digress. Ahem.
With gorgeous sunshine, as well as a fellow American Red Cross volunteer, Richard, as my companion, we headed off first to visit the site known as "Ground Zero" - where the dreadful attacks on 9/11 happened. We opted for a guided walking tour of the site, so that we could fully appreciate not only what happened back in 2001, but also what is planned for the site with future construction.
There was lots to see...but what struck me the most were the two "reflecting pools" - waterfalls in the place of where the former Twin Towers stood...surrounded by the names of the people killed, etched into the walls...it was a very powerful, solemn reminder of just how many people lost their lives on that day.
We had two tour guides...Cindy, who did most of the talking, and who eventually shared with us the story of her husband, who was working on the 78th floor of the South Tower - but miraculously, survived...
...and Jeanette...an older woman who shared with us the heartbreaking story of her daughter, who was standing outside the Twin Towers when the first plane hit, and was killed by falling debris....needless to say, this story had everyone in tears, and made my heart physically hurt.
Jeanette's pain was evident for all to hear...even after all of these years...
After spending some time at the site, reflecting, paying tribute, learning and remembering, Richard and I hopped on a NYC subway and sped uptown to the Times Square area. I was quite proud of my first subway experience - I had researched ahead of time of not only what train to take, but also where to catch it - and we looked like professional subway riders, blending right in with the locals. Well. Perhaps my big grin of excitement at riding my first subway wasn't exactly blending in with the locals - but I couldn't help it. I was giddy. I was riding a subway - and like a little kid on their first train ride, I couldn't help but smile.
After popping up from the way-cool subway at Times Square, we found ourselves literally at the front door of Junior's Restaurant, a famous landmark that is famous for their cheesecake. Well - who were WE to turn away from this culinary experience...???!!
Oh. My. God. SOOOO GOOOOOD!
After lunch, Richard and I separated...the plan was for us each to go our separate ways, and then meet back up later that evening for our commute back across the Hudson to New Jersey. I was headed off to explore a Harry Potter exhibition at Times Square (don't judge), while Richard was going to explore the shops and stuff in Midtown. I waved goodbye to him as I skipped off to immerse myself in all-things-Hogwarts, which, while cheesy (hee hee), was a welcome relief after the emotion and heaviness of the morning spent at Ground Zero.
Around 2:30 pm, I walked over to the Theater District near Broadway, as I had tickets to see yet another Broadway show, "Once" - which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical...as well as seven other Tonys. As I approached the theater, I saw a line of people snaking down the sidewalk...and ascertaining that this was a line of a few hundred or so waiting for the doors to open for "Once" - I hopped in.
However...I eventually noticed that everyone around me already had their tickets in hand.
I DIDN'T have my tickets in hand...mine were waiting for me at will call at the box office...and a kind lady behind me told me I'd have to leave the line and go GET my tickets - and then get BACK in line to wait for the doors to open for seating.
Sigh. I have so much to learn yet about New York.
Here's where it got interesting, though...I push and shove and snake my way through the mob of people on the sidewalk, making my way up near the front doors. I couldn't quite figure out, though, WHICH particular door I needed to go in to get to the box office - so my best bet was to grab someone on the sidewalk and just ask.
I reached out and tapped the shoulder of the first man I saw, who was standing with his back to me.
"Excuse me, sir," I began...
"Can you tell me where the box office is?"
The man turned around...and it was Richard.
I kid you not.
My jaw dropped and I did a literal double take right there on the sidewalk.
"What the hell??!!!"
What were the FREAKING odds that the ONE guy I tap on the shoulder...out of TWELVE million people in the city...would be the guy I came to NYC with??!!
"Wait, WHAT??!!" I said, dumbfounded...."I know YOU!!!!"
I guess Richard had decided to go see the same show, and had scored a last minute ticket...he was probably glad he did, too, as the show was really good. The music was haunting, the setting was intimate, and the story was resonating. What's particularly cool about the experience is that you are invited to go ON THE STAGE before the show to get a drink...which means that I can honestly say...
...I'VE BEEN ON STAGE AT BROADWAY.
Yes. Yes, I have.
I'll be practicing my autograph here soon so I'm prepared for my fans.
After the show, Richard and I walked a few blocks in the bright neon lights of Manhattan, not only declaring that our day in New York City was pretty darn awesome....
...but wondering what the odds were of me reaching out and touching the ONE person I knew in a city of 12 million people??!!