The first time I saw the tall buildings of Manhattan I was nine years old riding in a car on the Whitestone Bridge. “Look at that zigzag crown,” my father said, pointing to the one he worked in. He spoke of gargoyles and aluminum trim, stainless steel, and a lobby clad in marble, onyx and amber. I imagined dozens of shiny elevators shooting a thousand feet to the sharp point needle sticking straight up into the sky.
We were in traffic on the way to the airport to pick up a Grandmother arriving for the holidays. An Etch-A-Sketch lay against my lap and I began drawing that jagged skyline, dark lines on the gray screen, a stylus beneath glass scraping through a scrim of aluminum powder.
Up, across, back down. Angular thin boxes, two with tall spires and the flat topped Twin Towers further down. Being further away from us they looked shorter, but weren’t. If you turned it upside down and gave it a shake, you could make it all go away, an easy way to start again.
The day the plotter stopped working, the knobs caught and wouldn’t turn. I bashed on the bright cherry red frame until the glass cracked and tiny silvery balls spilled out along my hands and up onto my arms. I tried to fan it away, but bits still clung to my clothes except for the finest powder which I watched falling through the air in a light gray dust to the floor.