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kind of stone I associate with a particular kind of ornate modern tomb….” In a way, it was already obsolete by the time it was finisheda huge concentration of resources built in the pre-Internet era. But I did not know that. And if I did, I certainly would not have thought much about it. Instead all I thought about so many years ago was the great rush of freedom I felt every afternoon when I left a dismal office on Rector Street, walked across the plaza, entered the Trade followed the labyrinth of signs and made my way to the subway. I was free and the city was mine. Here is another scene, from another September. We are sitting in the Greek Coffee Shop at the corner of Fourth Street and Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn. It is 1985 and there is no such thing as Starbucks; every coffee shop in New York is called The Greek Coffee Shop and every coffee shop is open all night long. I am reading the newspaper and start to cry. The waitress wants to know what’s wrong. The young man in the kitchen already knows. He is from the state of Puebla, in Mexico. Two ferocious earthquakes have just struck Mexico City. Later we will hear that 10,000 people were killed; others will say there were many more. But at that moment, I am thinking of Mexico City, walking down the Paseo de Reforma, sitting in Alameda Park or at the Tlatelolco metro stop, where a massive housing complex has just collapsed like a pancake. “Can you imagine,” I ask the waitress, “what it would be like if a skyscraper had collapsed in Manhattan?” She cannot imagine. Neither can I. 1 am half-way through the cheese blintzes when the cell phone rings. I can’t hear a thing, and walk outside, where I run into a Washington, D.C. Metro policeman. He says a plane has crashed into the Pentagon.Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. The twin towers have collapsed. Now I can’t hear him, either. Maybe I lived in Mexico for too longor maybe it was those years in New Yorkbut at that moment I do not believe him. The next few days are a blur of images, e-mails and phone calls. Everyone returns the e-mails, with the exception of a friend who is a journalist. He is too busy, I tell myself. Meanwhile, I keep trying to call Anna, but no one answers. Finally someone picks up the phone and I hear the voice of her friend Juan at the end of the line. Juan is from Ciudad Neza, outside Mexico City, but has lived in New York for several years. We have met many times, but today he answers in that formal Mexican Spanish that says everything and nothing at once. “The Sefiora Anna is fine,” he says. “Her daughter is fine. We are all fine, gracias a Dios.” I am no longer sure what fine means. But tomorrow I will wrap up the book I had bought in Washington and send it to Anna. It is about Jorge Luis Borges, the late Argentine poet-storyteller, master of paradox, contradictions, shadows and labyrinths. Before I send it, I will copy a passage or two. Maybe this one. I have committed the worst sin of all That a man can commit. I have not been Happy. Let the glaciers of oblivion Drag me and mercilessly let me fall. My parents bred and bore me for a higher Faith in the human game of nights and days; Fo r eartkfir s ainfor water, and for fire. let Oft dogma I w asn’t happy. My ways id hope. I gave bornness rave. ing man. n an Ordinary Evening illis Barnstone