This day will never be just an ordinary day for anyone who can remember 2001. Everything changed, there is no doubt about that.
Ten years after the Twin Towers fell and our world was turned upside down, I had a 7 am flight from Chicago to New York City and I had a feeling of hope, something that was halted by 9 am ten years earlier.
I went to to New York because I had just graduated and was preparing for my future. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to tell stories and travel. When I enrolled at Bradley University, it was the first time I would be away from my parents even though they were a 3-4 hour drive away from me. I had never held a camera before, I had only written one short play in high school, I had never did anything really to put myself out there.
However, by the time I graduated college, I had become the manager of my department, the producer and news director, editor, and writer for the university’s weekly student-run show and I had taken any trip around the country that made us connections. As a joke, for my graduation/birthday party, I had it written on my cake the Julius Caesar quote: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
I had gone to Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City during my time at BU, plus two week studies in London and Dublin. Everywhere I went, I did research on how to get involved in media. The city that seemed surprisingly most respondent was NYC, a place that I fell in love with. I stayed in touch with these important and influential contacts for a year and went to visit them. At the time, I was offered a job for the Baha’i National Center’s Media Services back in Chicago so I stayed there but I knew I wanted to try other things and more importantly, be outside my comfort zone, live in a different city, country, continent. This trip to NYC really was the beginning of all that.
As I went through security on September 11, 2011, I was one of just a few at O’hare, it was 6 am and we all went through the extra questions, security procedures and made no fuss. It had been a decade but we all had a sense of responsibility to keep each other safe. It was an odd but empowering feeling. My father actually earlier that week had asked me not to leave on this day but my immediate reaction was, “Then they have won.”
Once I arrived, I went to Times Square since Ground Zero was more crowded. The taxi driver had his radio on and we both had tears in our eyes as a 9 year old child spoke of being in his mother’s womb as his firefighter father went to save people and lost his life 10 years earlier.
While in Times Square, there was not as many as people but there was still plenty of tourists, workers, everybody going about their business and there was a sense of accomplishment and happiness. This feeling was on the basis that we are moving on. We haven’t forgotten but we haven’t let it destroy us.
Now it’s been two years since my visit and I have stayed in touch with those contacts, I am living in Auckland, telling stories and traveling and this is only the beginning! Hope still exists and I will never forget those two days, September 11, 2001 and 2011.