9/11 in NYC

Everyone remembers what they were doing when the September 11th  attacks happened.

Well I don’t. I have no idea. And for some reason I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. Almost 3,000 people died and I can’t remember what I was doing.

I flew into New York yesterday, coincidentally Friday, September 11th. It was a strange feeling, I must admit. I’ve easily been on a hundred flights in my life and I genuinely enjoy flying; the thought of my flight not landing safely has never been an issue. The turbulence during the descent into New York was so rough that a woman on the flight began screaming and I suppose everyone was a little on edge that day, due to the memory of the events that occurred 14 years prior, because for the first time even I felt a little nervous during the flight. 

Upon landing in New York, my faith in humanity was again restored. I befriended my uber driver, a Pakistani man, and we spoke about God and kindness, the Quran, joy and fullfillment; he reminded me that although bad things happen in the world, people are innately good. 

I made sure to visit the 9/11 memorial that day to pay my respects to the men and women who lost their lives. I don’t know what to say about that experience, and I’ve tried all day to form a beautiful and eloquent sentence to summarize it. However, the best I can do is: it was sad. 

I was touched at the amount of people, from all walks of life, who were at the memorial that day. It’s a beautiful and very human thing, to grieve for those we’ve never met. What hit me the hardest however, was the people at the memorial that had actually lost a loved one in the attacks.

You could always tell who they were. They were the ones who brought flowers. They were the ones who washed the dust off the plaque where a name was written. They were the ones who lingered, in front of one name in particular, with their fingers gently tracing each letter, as if that by some reasoning was a means of communicating with the person they loved. 

I watched one young man who stood in front of a name for a while. He looked to be my age. I was seven when the attacks happened. That means he could have been seven, too. And there he was, standing frozen, tracing his fingers over the name of a man who, by the Sr. at the end of his name, I could only assume was the young man’s father.  

He stood there crying, and I stood behind him crying, too. 

Spending 9/11 in New York wasn’t the easiest way to kick-off a weekend of exploring the city, but it was a worthwhile reminder of the human capacity for great cruelty and simultaneously, immense compassion. And with that, I am ready for my five days in the big apple.

The 9/11 memorial in New York City

Ann Arbor and I

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

I never did like that quote. I worked in a chocolate store for two years and I knew damn well what was inside each box of chocolates. There were no surprises; I knew exactly what I was “gonna get.”

Of course, that’s me just taking Forest Gump a little too literally.

If someone told me six months ago that I would be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, I would be very surprised. This was not supposed to be in the box labeled, “life plans.” Alas, here I am, all moved in to my sweet little apartment in this beautiful college town.

This is the fourth time I’ve moved in the span of a year; Champaign-Urbana, Barcelona, Chicago and Ann Arbor. I must say, I’ve gotten rather good at it. It’s become surprisingly easy to pack myself into a few suitcases, show up in a new city where I only know three people, move into a new apartment and venture onward on my new path.

I spent the evening exploring Ann Arbor and I have to admit I’m a little concerned with how fond of it I am already. It seems a little silly to fall in love with every city I move to, but I guess I’ve been pretty lucky with my choices thus far. Ann Arbor has an undeniable charm. It’s quaint, yet hip, with an overwhelming amount of food options, which, let’s be real, is a huge selling point for me in any city. It’s large enough to be interesting, and small enough to be comfortable. Plus, it’s a little further up north than Chicago, making it already feel like autumn here, which is great because I’m really tired of sweating every time I go outside.

I have a lot more to explore, so I’m looking forward to living here for the next three months. Ann Arbor is like an extra chocolate that accidentally got placed into my box; I wasn’t expecting it but I already know I’m going to love it. 

Shout out to Mama Kulka and my big brother for moving me in!