Friday, September 9, 2011

A Decade of Perspective - Part I

In a very special memorial version of NYCitified, I’m posting a three part series with my thoughts and reflections on the last ten years. The events of 9/11 have deeply impacted my generation and had a huge impact on the development of our adult lives.  This is the story of how my life has been influenced.

Photo via All Posters

September 11, 2001 – it was a crisp, fall morning in Pittsburgh and I was on my way to class during my senior year of college. I was wearing a white sweater and I’m sure I was thinking about the heavy subject of whether or not I had time to stop and get a granola bar. Suddenly multiple cellphones were ringing simultaneously and it was as if everyone on the street got the memo to stop walking at exactly the same moment. Flight 93 had just gone down in Shanksville, PA but the news media had it slightly wrong, and reported that a plane had just crashed in Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh parents were in a panic and the day that had started out so peacefully, had just taken an abrupt turn for the surreal. The US was under terrorist attack and the North Tower of the World Trade Center was about to collapse.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. I know that at some point I watched the news coverage from a classroom in the business school building. I remember a very awkward lunch with a guy that had a crush on me (the feeling was definitely not mutual). Pittsburgh public transportation was halted so I made the long walk home in beautiful September weather and found my roommates in the backyard with the weed whacker. In retrospect, the weed whacker part seems a bit odd, but at the time it seemed perfectly normal. That day, doing something was better than doing nothing. I’m sure all three of us gave blood and I’m sure my tiny veins made it very painful, but I really don’t remember that part at all.
The one thing that does stick with me more than anything though, was a feeling of distance. We were safely tucked away in Pittsburgh and NYC seemed like a far-off fantasyland at the time. Sure, I had been there a few times to see shows and do a little sightseeing, but I didn’t actually know anyone in NY. I had no real connection to the people or the place. I still felt sad, but it was more like the subtle feeling of sadness that accompanies uncontrollable change, not the intense sadness that comes with real loss. I can’t remember even crying that day.
Smashcut to 9 months later and I was moving into a little apartment with a mouse problem on the Upper Westside of Manhattan. So what would possess a person to move to NYC less than one year after such a terrifying incident? Frankly, I wonder that myself some days, but I think I was mostly propelled out of a spirit of adventure and challenge. Maybe I’m a little type A that way, but I loved the idea of taking on one of the most competitive cities in the world, just to see if I could do it. Oh and it didn’t hurt that the economy was a mess and New York was literally the only city that seemed to have jobs. I found my dream job and I was well on my way to becoming an obnoxious New Yorker. Score one for KT and her Upper Westside apartment with the BB gun holes in the bedroom window!
To be continued…….

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