In June, smoke from the fires in Quebec had made its way down to Manhattan and blanketed the financial district in a brown haze. My co-workers and I checked periodically as the air quality index went from a moderate yellow to a very unhealthy purple. I braved the streets around noon and I could barely see the end of the block. Cars were caked in dust and everyone was looking around as if the source of the ash was close by, not 500 miles away. I decided to walk the two blocks to the 9/11 memorial.