I hate to be cheesy at a time like this, because all of my friends are accounted for, and all of my family members are safe. But as all New Yorkers can tell you, it's been a trying couple of days, and I figure because of that, I can get away with rambling a little about what I've seen here, even in light of the original message below. Here goes. Tonight, for not the first time this week, I walked along the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. For those of you who have not visited our (still) fair City, the Promenade is one of the finest views of Southern Manhattan that exists, probably only on par with the one at Harborside Financial Center in Jersey City, on the other side of the island. The Promenade is almost on top of the water, and from this spot I viewed one of the most painful reminders that this is not someone's cruel idea of a joke. I spent Saturday in downtown Manhattan. Some of you may find it tasteless, but while I understood the decision, I was disappointed and sad that college football, along with every other sporting event, had been cancelled. After a couple of days of terror, locked inside my apartment, I had (unbelievably) looked forward to air travel, actually anticipated the trip to Tampa and the subsequent two hour drive to Gainesville. After all this -- after some maniac had attacked my home, and in doing so, destroyed a quintessential piece of American symbolism -- I felt uplifted to think that the Gators, among precious few other teams, would still play and allow me some small diversion from the stark reality that is Manhattan today. I understand the decision, but I can't say that I agree -- instead of getting back to our lives, we got back to CNN, and that wasn't much help. But for now, back to Manhattan. I had left the house intending to move south, at some point turning east, and then heading back uptown again. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Manhattan is a long, narrow island, encompassing about 25 miles of land to the north and south and maybe three miles to the east and west. I live on 30th Street and 8th Avenue, the western side of Midtown, and thankfully was unaffected by the catastrophe downtown. A lot of people have asked me if I heard it or felt it when it happened... I didn't, but in any case, I've felt it a lot since. Back to Saturday. I started down 6th Avenue, through the now-deserted flower district, and into Greenwich Village. For some reason, I stopped to watch a game at the legendary basketball courts at the corner of 6th Ave and W. 3rd St., across from the Blue Note jazz club... it seemed ironic to me that on a day when all other sports had bailed out, the ballers down in the 'hood were still jumpin'. Walking east on Houston Street, I saw so many memorials -- every patch of green had some color and a sign -- and the photocopied pictures on every phone booth and bus stop, images of loved ones who would probably never come home. It was depressing, seeing these people's likenesses, along with their employers -- a name, followed by the apocalyptic "Cantor Fitzgerald," post-90th floor WTC occupants -- but at the same time, I was encouraged and uplifted by the sheer volume of love that existed in this City in the face of such tragedy. NY1, our 24-hour news channel, had reported the previous day that officials at the Jacob Javits Center had turned volunteers away... the outpouring of compassion and caring had been so great, it had over-powered the few people who'd been designated to deal with it. It's amazing that for all the bad publicity we get here in NYC, that we could prove to be so strong in light of such great loss. For those who've thought there was no compassion or kindness in New York, I can tell you first-hand that you were dead wrong. Still, I walked south. I made it down Broadway, and to Canal Street, stopping on the way to buy a bag of roasted peanuts and a Poland Spring. If it hadn't been for the smoke and the smell of burning wires, I might have mistaken this for the most typical Saturday afternoon... but the cops at Canal snapped me back to reality. As always, I had headphones on, and had stopped to gawk at the plume of smoke coming from the area only 15 blocks to the south, when for some unknown reason, I turned to see the cop manning the barricade at Broadway and Canal, and read his lips -- "Don't stop, keep moving, DO NOT STAND IN THE STREET." He was looking right at me. I took my cue and hurriedly edged into Chinatown. Since I'd heard that Canal on down was closed, I didn't think I'd make it any further south, nor did I really have any intention of doing so. But as I moved east on Canal Street towards the East Village, watching street vendors peddle American flags and t-shits which declared "United We Stand" or "The Home of The Brave," a growing sense of dread mixed with curiosity overcame me... I knew that I would not be able to come close to the site of the tragedy, but I felt compelled to get down there and see it... unbelievably, I felt the need to etch the image into my mind permanently. Perhaps I wanted to be able to tell my kids about it. Maybe I just wanted to make sure I never forgot. Somehow over by Park Row, off Bowery, I followed a group of folks heading south. There were lots and lots of soldiers, most wearing gas masks. It suddenly felt a lot more like war than even I had imagined. I moved cautiously, not sure when I might be turned away by some NYPD gatekeeper of Army watchman. Moving slowly but steadily down St. James and onto Wall Street, I started to really see the effect this event had on the area... it was SO quiet, and although the rain the previous day had washed away a lot of the ash, you could tell it had been there, and the cobblestone streets were way too lonely, even for a Saturday. At some point, moving down on South William Street, I was amazed and frightened to see a mass of people running, seemingly for their lives. They were moving perpendicular to me, scattering to the east as I moved south. I had no idea what was going on, and the cops around me didn't seem to either. At the bottom of the hill, I stopped a guy to ask what all the commotion was about, and he told me that "they" were afraid another building was about to collapse... officials had told all of the on-lookers to "run, just get out of here." This didn't sound much like the New York I knew. Another stunning revelation -- for the first time since I've been a New Yorker, we'd been hit, and below the belt at that. Eventually I moved across Water Street and ended up at Bowling Green. During a regular day, Bowling Green (which is basically a fountain and a small park in the southernmost part of Manhattan) is packed with relaxing city-goers, most reading a paper at lunch or feeding the pigeons, but today the hiatus was empty. Here I was at the lower end of the mythical Canyon of Heroes -- where New York sports teams come to bask in the glory of a championship -- and I heard no cheers, saw no ticker tape... instead the thin film on everything I had with me was the white soot that had once been the World Trade Center. It was at this point that it occurred to me that it was strange that I'd seen so many people carting luggage... I was suddenly aware that the folks who live below Canal had not been allowed back into their apartments until Saturday. You'd have thought that when I saw a guy wearing battered shorts and a ripped t-shirt and toting a huge piece of roll-away luggage it would have registered, but I think I was just too dumbfounded by it all to notice. At Battery Park I got an eyeful of the recovery effort. There were soldiers EVERYWHERE, and tanks and other armored vehicles, and more than once I saw a convoy of dump trucks carting debris out of the financial district. The armed folks wouldn't let you any where north of Bowling Green, but standing there leaning against the fence watching bewildered people come out of the 4-5 stop personified the devastation... in some measure, the terrorists had won, because here, people's lives have definitely been disrupted, if not disturbed forever. Watching six city busses full of firemen and relief workers rolling past was enough to convince me... I was in the way here, misplaced in a war zone, and my senseless gawking wasn't helping anyone. I eventually left and headed back east. Dave Giwner, one of my NYC Gator brothers, called me to tell me that ESPN Classic was showing the 1999 UF-UT game that night at 9:00. It suddenly occurred to me that there would be no better way for me to get recent events off my mind than to watch my beloved Gators getting an important and historic win in Gainesville over the very same hillbillies that I had been gearing up for before the tragedy took place. So, I called another NYC Gator, Jason Field, and we sat in my apartment, drinking American beer and watching first the 1987 Florida-Alabama game (the Gators' first in Birmingham in 50 years) and then the '99 UF-UT matchup. It was nothing like a game day, but for a moment, I wasn't thinking about the pain. The Promenade was eerily quiet. Many people sat or stood in the shadows, alone with their own grief and feelings of remorse. I saw a sign that said, "Jewish Americans and Arab Americans unite - we are all in this together," set below a bundle of roses which had been tied to the railing. There were candles, hundreds, maybe thousands of them, burning for the friends we lost on Tuesday. Looking across at Manhattan, there was still a wisp of smoke rising between the remaining buildings, accompanied by a light visible even from across the water... the efforts of the workers who are even now clearing the rubble away were evident simply because of the glow. There is what can only be described as a hole in the sky where the Twin Towers used to stand, looming over us like a protective deity in the midst of all that concrete. I couldn't help but turn away, knowing that no one was watching, but hiding my face anyway... I knew that Lady Liberty, torch and all visible even from here, would rather see me defiant in the face of our enemies. I knew that she would help keep us together.... even while she faced the enemy which until now, we had not. I love you all, and God Bless America. L.