17 Saint Marks Place was my home. It became “The Frozen Zone,” after we were attacked on September Eleventh.
I remember the streets being quiet, strangely quiet.
At Veselka Cafe, people were sitting outside, enjoying breakfast, on a beautiful morning. As I walked out of the bodega with David, we noticed there were no cars, no buses, no cabs.
Headed home, we crossed the street. I remember the exact moment we saw the diners at Veselka Cafe confront the new reality we were still trying to process, as thousands of people, covered in dust, seemed to appear out of thin air, moving swiftly north on 2nd Avenue.
My life in New York City was over. I didn’t know it, at the time. It took me 4-years to admit my life was over in New York City. My career vanished. I couldn’t find steady work. I couldn’t forgive myself for not being able to find steady work.
I spent my remaining years as freelancer. Incidentally, freelancer is another word for zombie.
In 2004, I moved to Chicago to open a restaurant with my brother. I’m grateful to the Midwest. But I will spend the rest of my life homesick. Turns out, 17 Saint Marks Place was more than my home. It was my heart.