While working out yesterday with a friend of mine, we somehow got on the subject briefly of New York. She knows that I lived there from July 2001 to February 2002. I didn't even last a year there, but it was an experience that has shaped my adult life. For many reasons, but most of all because of 9/11. Over the years I've had people say that I should write about my experience there and what happened. I've always said no, for the following reasons: I don't want to capitalize on or trivialize the experience; I was just an observer to the events; I don't feel as if my experience sheds any light on what happened. My family and close friends already know the story, so I also feel like I'm repeating something they don't want to hear. Mostly, I just don't want to be another writer capitalizing or dramatizing what was a devastating experience for so many people.
The ten year anniversary is coming up, and of course I think about 9/11 and that day; more and more though I think about my life as it is now and the reverberations of that day. I have "What Ifs" about my life. It's like my life split. In one life I stay in New York.
I can see my life as it might have been: me still in New York, working at some nonprofit arts organization, working up the ladder, attending social events. In that life, I'm a more successful writer than I am now. I'm published by a big literary house. I have artistic friends. I'm still single. I have no children. I am happy but missing something. I have hard edges. I am lonely.
In the life that I chose, I'm here in Grand Rapids with my kids, my house, my fiance, planning a wedding. I've written three books that haven't sold much. I'm working on a fourth. I teach. I cook. I am happy, but still wonder if I could've been something better artistically. I wonder if it's too late for my work to be anything more than it is: fluff. I am loved. I am supported. I feel like I matter.
I guess this is why I've decided to write about my experience in New York, but not just the day on September 11. I wasn't there that long, and I'd like to tell the story from the beginning. Thankfully, I didn't lose anyone in the towers. I didn't see some of the horrors that others did. But I was there. Maybe in that story, of a 28-year-old giving up everything and moving from Grand Rapids to New York, working at Carnegie Hall, going through September 11, and drastically changing her life...maybe there's something valid in that too. I'll try to be totally honest. I'll try not to sensationalize or make September 11 about me. It wasn't about me. But maybe my little story shows how that day changed all of us. Sometimes for the worse...but...I think in my case...it changed me for the better.
I'll still do some fun, pointless blogs too.
Look for the "Tumbling 9/11" tag to read these posts. Other posts will be sorted into the regular 'blog' post.