Hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that awful day. 10 years ago today, I was still unpacking from my move back to NYC, my hometown, the city that I have always loved above all others even though I was away from it for over 10 years. I had moved back on September 8th and started my new job at a TV station on September 10th. I was going through a divorce that I thought would surely break me. When my husband at the time told me he no longer wanted to be married a couple months shy of our 2 year anniversary, I felt as if my world were falling apart.
We were living in Boston at the time, a place we moved to when he got a job there. I left an enviable job at ESPN so he could take the opportunity he wanted. And there I was in this city that I didn’t particularly like, knowing nobody, feeling adrift and hanging on to my marriage for dear life since it was the only thing I had that was familiar. Less than a year later, he made his grand declaration and I watched my future walk out the door. Immediately I knew that I had to go back home. I knew that if I were going to survive this experience, I had to be with my family, in my city. I grew up in NYC and those streets, the subway, the sounds, the smells…all of it was home to me. All of it was going to heal me so I could feel whole again.
I was lucky enough to find a job fairly quickly and on the weekend of September 8th, 2001 I packed up the moving van and went home. To a new apartment where I lived by myself for the first time in years, something that took a long time to get used to. I used that weekend to walk the streets for hours, wallowing in my misery yet feeling comforted by everything that was familiar. I felt a sense of peace that I hadn’t felt since that day I found out that “as long as we both shall live” doesn’t necessarily always hold true. I felt that this was a new beginning.
On September 10, 2001 I walked into my new job – nervous and excited. Here was a place where nobody knew me; nobody looked at me with pity as the girl that had just been dumped by the guy that promised to love her in good times and in bad. Nobody knew my pain and as lonely as that made me feel, it also felt like freedom.
And then. September 11, 2001. A day that made my pain pale in comparison to what other people were feeling. A day that made me realize how how lucky I was to have my family and friends safe. A day that made all of us forget what was going on in our own personal lives and bound us together forever. Though I was living and working on the Upper East Side at the time, about 5 miles away from Ground Zero, we could see and smell the smoke as if it were right around the corner. And the city that had always felt so familiar to me all of a sudden had an eerie feeling. People walking around with stunned looks on their faces, unable to really comprehend the devastation that was going on in our city. Wondering whether there were going to be more attacks yet not wanting the fear to win out.
We New Yorkers are nothing if not resilient. We made it through with a renewed pride in ourselves and our city. We kept going, we lived our lives but we have not forgotten. And 10 years later, as I look at my amazing husband and my beautiful daughter who both give me more joy than I ever thought possible, I know that this is where I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be in this apartment in Brooklyn with a view of the Empire State Building and the beams that remind us though there’s no way that any of us can ever forget. I will embrace my family, give thanks for all that I have in my life and honor those that were lost on this day 10 years ago.