Andre Cantelmo Photography
The day began as one of those wonderfully rare perfect days. The kind of day you just can’t help but notice, especially here in the northeast. Dark blue sky, accented with pure white puffy clouds. The kind of clouds that took the shape of barking dogs, trees, people, and many other things from our imagination. The icing on the cake was near perfect temperatures; boy it was great to be alive. With breakfast behind me, I set out for a normal workday filled with deadlines.
The events of September 11, 2001 became a focal point of change for me as well as my country. It felt as if ice water were poured on our collective souls. As a lifelong resident here in New Jersey, it is impossible to carry out your normal routine, drive around, do errands, and in short make a living, without seeing the twin towers sometime in your day. They were seemingly simple in design, but had the property of changing color, hue, and saturation each day depending on the weather, some day’s fog obscured the tops and gave the impression that they went all the way to heaven. When my son was a young child, we’d watch the construction of the towers from the top of one of our local hills here. As a photographer, I just had to periodically spend some time and film shooting this amazing architecture. They could not be ignored, and demanded attention. The courtyard surrounding the towers attracted a diverse group of people, and sitting there just yards away from the globe sculpture made it feel like you were in the center of civilization. If it is possible to love architecture, then I loved those towers. Driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike the towers would come into view at some point or other. I’d critique’ the lighting, judge the air quality, and clouds got points off for being ordinary some days. After a while, I got the idea that they belonged to me, being my personal background, my backyard so to speak.
Each September 11th is a sad day. The people who lost family and friends will live with the grief that day brought to us and it will never go away. All of us will live with the loss of people we knew, and the loss of those wonderful buildings. I am not a sociologist, but I know what life felt like before the attack, and I know that it’s different now. The events of that day are not something we talk about in our neighborhood that often. It’s always there hovering in the back of our minds though. The attack that day is personal to us. It was in our backyard, and some of our tribe died because of it.
Every once in a while, I’ll go through my stock photos and happen across one of the many shots of the towers, or Saint Nickolas Church, that sat dwarfed by the twin giants. I smile briefly, and then feel the loss. It still hurts. It’s kind of a dull quiet hurt that never will go away. I cannot call it ground zero; to me it will always be the World Trade Center.