Morning, all. I'm in Manhattan still, and it's very Manhattan-y out here today, which is to say that I am guessing that it is going to be wet from the way the light reflects off the concrete wall of the very large high-rise building right across the street from where I'm staying. I have no idea what color the sky is; the cut I'm in is too deep for me to even see the image in ricochet by checking the windows of the floors above me. I'd have to go outside and tip my head straight up to check.

Manhattan has a way of making even the most significant things seem mundane. I walked right past the 9/11 memorial preview park widget twice yesterday before it occurred to me that the twisty metal whatzit might be A Thing. I had no idea I was that close to Ground Zero, other than in the sense that I'm aware that everything in Manhattan is basically on top of everything else in Manhattan, until I bludgeoned Google into giving me directions to one of the six or seven subway stops suggested in the conference email -- none of which are the one right in the basement of the building, inconveniently -- and it told me the segment of Broadway I was busy being bewildered on was the section now called the Canyon of Heroes. The rise and overlap of life here is so dense I have no idea how the Twin Towers did not knock a whole fucking lot more stuff down when they fell.

They do street signs in NYC, so I did notice when I was technically on the infamous Wall Street, right before I noticed that the infamous Wall Street is not a particularly impressive sight. The Flatiron Building was pointed out to me on our brief quest for a bodega on Friday morning, and it turns out that the Flatiron Building looks exactly like all of the other buildings right around it, to my non-native eyes. Oddly enough, the Fulton Street train station, where I eventually ended up on the theory that if I could just get on the goddamn subway I could be slightly less lost, did strike my brain as some kind of achievement: There are no stations in Boston where more than three lines meet at once, and an entire shopping mall full of fare gates marked with what appear to be completely random alphanumeric characters has been filed away as 'a thing I will remember seeing for quite a while'.

I am beginning to realize that Boston is very, very different from most large American cities. There might be segments of NYC out in Brooklyn or Queens that aren't as visually dissimilar, but there is an atmosphere in Boston that New York doesn't have. One of the things that struck me most on my first few trips through Boston and Cambridge is that everything there seems historical. Some of it almost anachronistic. The buildings and the layout of the neighborhoods have been pulled from the past and re-purposed for the present. It's a bit of a jumble in some places, but other segments like the Common and the Back Bay have been transplanted whole. It feels old and used and well-loved. Victorian brownstones sit next to modern high-rises in rows like crooked teeth, interrupted at random by greenery and air.

Manhattan is eternal. It looks like it has always looked like this, and will always look like this, right up until the heat death of the universe. Once a thing exists here, it immediately looks like it has always existed, as if its presence extends in both directions across the timeline. (Sometimes even in intangible senses: One of my fellow conference-goers mentioned getting a room at the Hotel Pennsylvania, which has had the exact same telephone number -- PEnnsylvania 6-5000, now in the 212 area code -- since the telephone was first installed.) I understand now one of the reasons why 9/11 was so upsetting to the people who lived here. Everyone was horrified at the intent and the death toll, but Manhattanites were angry and traumatized on top of that because it changed the skyline. There is a hole in their world now where the towers used to be.

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