Category Archives: 9/11

Thank you, NY City for helping a country girl feel free & safe

It’s hard to believe 9/11 was now ten years ago.

Ten years ago I got married the same month. Now I am reliving it with my eight-year old son through footage. As the second plane crashed. As the first tower fell. Then the second. The Pentagon. The plane in a Pennsylvania field. The heroes. The dead. The shock rushing back into me as I sat home all day glued to the t.v. thinking the world had gone mad.

A trip during 1997. If you look close, you can see the Twin Trade towers just behind the Statue of Liberty. How fitting.

My son wanted to know how we felt watching it unfold. I could not find the words to explain how I felt. Sometimes you just can’t.

I love New York. All of it. I grew up on a mountain above Albany. “Upstate” as New Yorkers would say. It was when I got my first job out of college and moved to Nutley, NJ across the river from the Big Apple City that I overcame my fear of big cities. I fell in love with it. This giant, pounding alive thing. It surged with lights, noise, smells, and people.

Here I was, a country girl living just across from the big city. All alone. I forced myself to drive into its grandness. The Lincoln Tunnel sucked me up into its curved darkness. I was afraid of being swallowed up. But I wasn’t. In all that organized madness, I was free. It made me feel so alive. To walk anywhere. To see it all. And no one knowing who I was. No one knowing where I was. Free. And safe. New York City made me feel safe.

This doesn’t sound so extraordinary. But it was for me. I fought panic attacks for years. Panic of the new, of being out in open spaces, of people, of crowds. I would grocery shop at midnight when no one was there. Always parking in the same spot. It was safe.

It took me years to finish college at a large university. Each process of getting to campus was an agonizing step. First, park. Then measure the distance of walking to my class building. Avoid people. But they’re everywhere! Wear sunshades to feel invisible. Find a seat in class alongside the wall to feel safe. Try to get through class without sweating profusely or spastic coughing. It was not a safe place. Safe was home, alone between comforting walls. Safe.

Then along came a career and a big city to conquer. Only while conquering the big city, it conquered my phobias. From Times Square to the Lexington Deli to the Guggenheim to Broadway and home across the river. In a world of flowing people I felt safe. Alone and free and safe.

So thank you New York for embracing me and showing me your chaotic beauty and grandeur.
Thank you for making me feel safe when I could not before.
Thank you for helping me overcome my anxieties and find freedom in your vast and colorful landscape.
Safe.
Free.
We still feel that same way about you.
You haven’t let us down yet. The heroes of 9/11 never did.
We won’t let you down.
And we will never forget.

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Filed under 9/11, Inspirational

Showing my son our world through books, good and bad

As a mother, nothing comes close to my primitive urge as a mom to protect my child. So, I thought it ironic to visit a playground in NC this week with a warning sign of alligators nearby.

This sign hit me with the realization that while we can provide our children with the resources to defend themselves and make good choices, ultimately we have to let them go out there to frolic amongst the good guys and the gators. This includes opening their eyes to not-so-nice things that go on in the world through media and books.

Especially books. They can open up our child’s eyes to what happened in history, just and unjust. Because of books read with my son, we’ve had many open dialogues about slavery, civil rights, oppressive religions, women earning the right to vote, the Holocaust and terrorism.

When my son was six we got a wonderful book called “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” by Mordicai Gerstein. In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This book paved the way for us to talk in depth about the twin towers and terrorism. My son said at the time he hoped that bad man would be caught and someday, the towers would be rebuilt.

One out of two so far now. I could now report that the bad man had been caught and killed. My son wanted to know how he was found and killed, what happened to his children, his wives, and if this meant this kind of thing would never happen again. I wish. But, I hope in having these discussions (as I hope parents are everywhere) that we are changing the world for the better – one child at a time.

Books. They do open us up to new worlds but also our world to our children. They help us as parents relate the bad and good that have happened throughout history and now to our children. They help us show the poetry in our world events and help us feel sad, joyous, compassionate or outraged.

Books. They open up conversations with my son about life and death and right and wrong. I watch him as he struggles with these issues and tries to figure out his place in the world.

And while I empower my son with information and send him out in there to navigate the battle field of life with as much armor as possible, I hope the good guys outnumber the gators. I hope he witnesses more glory than gore. And even if the gators in disguise try and get him, I hope it is “just a flesh wound!”

Keep the hope alive in you and your children.

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Filed under 9/11, Inspirational