Here’s the thing about living down the street from the 9/11 Memorial: Tourism on another level and the apparent need for an apartment exorcism.
I moved to the FiDi almost five years ago to be closer to work. I found an apartment in a gorgeous, Gothic-style pre-war building where gargoyle statues guard the mailroom. It’s a stone’s throw from the law firm where I work (many of my co-workers live in the building too) and half a block from the memorial, which opened in 2011.
On weekends, a constant stream of people walk in front of the entrance to my building. Every time I leave it’s like fording a river of people. Sometimes the whole sidewalk is people waiting to go in, not moving anywhere, so I walk in the street, which actually is pretty nice because most of the streets are pedestrian-only.
But the tourists are nothing compared to The Visits. I mean, of course, when a high ranking personage—yes, even POTUS himself, and I saw him from my office—makes an official visit. I get maybe a day's notice if I see barricades going up. Then the streets are shut down. Security everywhere. I suppose these visits are kind of a big deal, generally, because visitors will often come on a momentous, high-profile day, like groundbreaking or an anniversary. Most of the time, luckily, it doesn’t affect me too much because I work on the same street as my job. Since both are behind the barricades, I never have to go outside the secure area. Normally, you’d have to get a badge to identify yourself as a resident, so I avoid that added hassle.
For the most part, you can almost forget you live next to such a significant place. Well, except for when my then girlfriend sat me down a month after moving in to talk about how uncomfortable she felt living in the apartment because she was sensing an evil, ghostly presence. Her family is pretty far out there on the Christian Charismatic spectrum. I don’t know much about spirits that can’t “move on,” but I know that she felt unsettled because former residents of the building had died in the terrorist attacks.
She said we had to get rid of an angry spirit, or whatever it was, that was stuck in my apartment. So one day, her parents came to visit and brought along some holy water. Apparently, if something was there that couldn’t or wouldn’t leave on its own, it could simply be exorcised by saying some prayers and spraying holy water into each room. There were no priests involved. It was a DIY exorcism. It sounded simple and harmless enough, so I let them do it. Still, I didn’t much feel like being part of it, so I told them to let me know when they were done, and then I left. Funny enough, it turned out that the ghost wasn’t our only problem. The relationship was not to be saved by prayers or holy water and it ended soon after.