When you do a blog that focuses on life in New York, I'm pretty sure it's expected that one covers 9/11. This might be the one and only time I write about this. Sure there will be future Facebook status updates and maybe some tweets, but I only want to cover this once in full detail. Just listen closely. I think the message is clear. Let's begin. This is the view from my neighborhood in Queens:
How beautiful is that? It's magical at night. It's just a street on my corner. It's a beautiful reminder that I'm following a dream. I live in a city of dreams. It's missing something I know... That's where we find ourselves today. On this day a terrible tragedy took place here in New York. An event that hit so many people far and wide and changed if not the world, it changed our country, my country.
I actually wasn't in New York yet on 9/11/2001. New York City was still a far away dream for me. None of my friends were in NY yet, and I barely knew anyone from the city at the time. I was in my freshman year of college at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on the day the planes hit. I got up early to check the internet in my dorm's computer lab. In the lobby of Middlebrook Hall, they have this huge big-screen TV. The 1st plane had hit, and the screen showed a tower on fire. That image is still burned into my memory. I didn't stop to watch the news. I breezed past to the computer room. My morning brain had not processed that something terrible had happened. Later, about noon classes were cancelled. I think I was in my Intro. to Theatre class that was being taught by the department head at the time. He stopped class and announced that all classes were cancelled. Something big had happened. Again, my brain had not made the connection. My rehearsal for my first student play in college met that night. It was our first rehearsal, and we got to know each other. We shared feelings and fears, and decided to cancel the rest of the rehearsal that night. I returned to the dorm, and my fellow dorm-mates on our floor were crowded around the tv in the lounge watching the non-stop coverage. I couldn't watch it. Something inside of me was disconnected. It wasn't that I didn't care. I did. Somehow it just didn't seem real to me. Something out of a terrible dream. I was lost in a fog. My heart went out to everyone affected, and parts of me inside were screaming, "Why aren't you crying? Why aren't you glued to the tv? What is WRONG with you?" I just honestly didn't know how to deal.
Cut to February 2006. I was in the ensemble for this play: The Trial of Osama Bin Laden. The play was terrible and confusing, but it's heart was in the right place. I was just happy to be in the midst of such talent and grace. In the play we had actual video/news segments from 9/11. We had short clips of people jumping from the towers that we had to watch in the middle of the show. The first time we watched them in rehearsal, I finally lost it. Every time I saw those clips I would cry. It finally hit me. It was good knowing that I wasn't cold or dead inside. I was starting to worry that I couldn't feel anything. Thinking of the sacrifice and love that was given burned a fire inside of me. I wouldn't take life for granted. I had to push forward and do what I wanted to do. Follow a dream. Move to a city I love and adore.
I moved here to New York in the summer of 2009. Broke and struggling, times were tough, but I managed. I pulled myself up to a better place, and I'm still a work in progress. Hopefully next year will be better then the one before it. I love New York, and the love affair will never end. It just grows stronger each day, even if it's always a surprise when I can make my rent. I'm heading into the city soon. I'm leaving safe Queens for the unknown in Manhattan to practice with my musical improv team. 5% of me is terrified to see smoke and crumbling towers. The other 95% is proud and happy to step out onto the streets knowing that I'm in a country that is free. Doing musical improv today seems kind of petty in the grand scheme of things on a day of such importance, but it's how I carry on. We have to be strong and rise up against our fear. That's at least what my parents have taught me. And so today I vow to sing and laugh on this day with some special people, and that's how I know that neither side necessarily won... But we will have heart and hope and love. I hope the other side does too. I just want people to remember. To take a moment, to think, and just try to make life better for those around you. Just never forget.