There was one Dutch September 11 victim, and she was one amazing person. Ingeborg Astrid Desiree Lariby was born in New York City but spent her life as a citizen of the Netherlands due to her parents possessing the same. Regardless of nationality, Ingeborg found comfort worldwide as a woman who defined urbane living. The effortless traveler moved across borders the way most people cross streets. Yet a person who lived in 12 countries on five continents didn’t feel at home until she was back in the City That Never Sleeps. Based on her full life, I’m unsure when she was able to sneak in a nap.
Some buildings are vast enough that they require someone to fill it with other companies. That need led Ingeborg to work as a center manager at the Regus Business Centre Corporation, a company in the World Trade Center that oversaw space within it. The complex featured unique demands she helped meet. Every account from coworkers to whom she exuded joy indicates she was radiantly proud of her employment. That job brought her to on the 93rd floor of Tower 2 on September 11. Nothing breaks the heart like learning she called her father to say she was okay because it was the other tower that had been attacked.
Regus lost so much: she was one of the company’s five victims. Thanks to Ingeborg, it wasn’t worse: she did her part to ensure clients were safe by refusing to leave until each of them was evacuated. Without realizing it, she was defining herself in her final moments with absolutely selfless dedication to helping others.
It’s one thing to reside in so many places, but it takes someone truly special to make a lasting positive impression in all of them. The heroic act of doing her job wouldn’t have surprised anyone who knew her, as companions and coworkers worldwide have offered effusive praise online over the 15 years since. A friend named Mark Asbury wrote about the fun times they shared in the electric ’80s with her generously sharing comp meals she received while working as a concierge. There’s Rodrigo Idrovo, a classmate at London’s Richmond College who remembered her as someone wonderful you’d feel lucky to have met during studies. And companions from intriguing cities like Vienna chipped in with touching tributes to a person who made others happy in just about any country you can name.
This is one employee who put the “world” in World Trade Center. Ingeborg lived a cosmopolitan life across the globe in her 42 years. She spoke a roster of languages and relocated between countries with the ease of running an errand like grocery shopping. Yet only one city could serve as her home.
She was drawn to the city like tourists to Times Square. That doesn’t mean life was without challenges. Ingeborg wrote about what made her love her final address back six months before her murder in a way that resonates with anyone drawn to a place where the word “bustling” seems inadequate. “New York is a tormented lover engages you in an emotional roller coaster. One day is full of passion and pounding my heart flutter. The next day is filled with intense hatred,” she wrote for a Dutch magazine. Ample downsides couldn’t keep her away: “I regularly rehab in a distant exotic place. But like a junkie I can not stay away too long and I look forward to the return trip with anticipation.” Anyone familiar with where she lived knows the feeling.
The ambiguity regarding New York City is normal. Someone living in here who isn’t aggravated by it hasn’t been around long enough. That doesn’t mean residents are going anywhere: anything worthwhile will be accompanied by hassles. There are no benefits without drawbacks. What’s important is how Ingeborg didn’t let any of them stop her from living a life that would exhaust many people just thinking about it.
Ingeborg chose such a life despite the endless headaches. Anyone who’s paid rent in New York City knows how you can hate it one moment and feel energized the next. She faced it all like a pro and thrived with graceful aplomb. Feel mad she’s not deftly enjoying the oscillation now while being glad she got to experience it for so long.
You can’t enjoy something spectacular unless you’re willing to cope with irksome circumstances. Like so many of us who reside in the boroughs, we persevere despite the hassles because they accompany its worthwhile aspects. The commotion stimulates to the point that residents who choose a teeming borough as home base dismiss the thought of life without the buzz as an option. For every place she touched, Ingeborg was drawn to where she belonged.
New York City will always be home. Ingeborg’s final resting place is the National September 11 Memorial, with her name displayed on Panel S-49. She’ll forever be at peace in a cacophonous city that may as well have been built for her. Someone who couldn’t get enough of what existence offers is honored in southern Manhattan as the embodiment of those who seek out the city. If Ingeborg didn’t see the whole planet, she came pretty close. May her energetic spirit be at rest.
Originally published September 11, 2016.