24 hours in New York City by Carmella De Lucia

The weather is stifling hot. The air is still, except for a slight breeze. It is just a normal day for the people that walk by me. But for me, it is a momentous event. For the first time in my life, I’m standing right in the middle of the city I have dreamed of visiting my whole lifetime. New York!

I’m in Ground Zero. Directly in front of me stands the remains of what used to be the World Trade Centre. Years have passed since that fateful day, but some of the building’s windows are still smashed. Some of the debris is still visible. And even though it could just be my imagination, I feel like the air is pungent with the smell of the burning buildings.

The emotions that envelope me as I stand in the spot where so many lives were lost are quite peculiar. I can feel tears building up in my eyes and a lump comes to my throat but I’m not sure why. Conflicting feelings arise. I feel angry yet elated at the same time. Angry at the sheer loss of life, elated to be able to stand here and gaze up at history.

I scan the names of the brave and think about how much the city of New York has changed since that tragic day. As I walk away from Ground Zero, I realise that though a nation may have changed, it has also grown stronger. A short while later I’m walking in Times Square. I have to fight my way through dozens and dozens of people all waiting in line to see the new Harry Potter film. People are dressed up as wizards and goblins. I smile to myself, thinking this is a nice way to bring people together. I’m not too interested in seeing the usual landmarks of New York City. I only have a day here and I want to spend it just walking the city streets. This is New York. Anything can happen.

I stroll past Macy’s and all the famous stores. The atmosphere is electric. It’s just an average day, yet my body is tingling with anticipation. A wonderful smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of a city. Hamburgers cooking, exhaust fumes, restaurant aromas. I grab snatches of people’s conversations as they walk past me. I hear laughter, children’s innocuous babble. Everyone is alive with energy. Everyone appreciates this beautiful day the same way I do. I stop right there in the middle of the street and look up at the Empire State Building. I feel lucky to be able to savor this moment. It was just one of those typical New York days. . but I’d never forget it.