I remember waking up to the news. Disoriented, as I was in my childhood home, visiting my mom on a mini-departure tour since I was planning on embarking on a backpacking trip in Europe beginning 9/18. Holy run-on sentence. Sorry. My thoughts are a little garbled when I reflect back on what 9/11 represents to me.
Tragedy. Loss. Unbelievable sadness for all of the lives lost. How this could happen seemed so unlikely to me. It took awhile to absorb the fact that there is a lot of hatred in the world. I remember opportunists trying to cash in on the tragedy while others exerted themselves in the recovery. How we came together to grieve, to love, to help each other.
I remember being dazed and filled with uncertainty. Personally, I knew (somewhere in my head) that a backpacking trip was out of the question. Stubbornly, I held to that belief though. I continued my going away tour until I returned to Lawrence, KS, and had coffee with my mentor. He said--you should wait. You can delay your trip, reschedule and go at a more secure time. Even if you wait 6 months, it's only six months. Cotten succeeded where all of my family failed. My parents, aunts/uncles, sisters, friends, even, shook their heads in frustration to me as I held on to the notion that I would go to Europe. Yes, i can be a stubborn fool. I think this comes from my mom's side of the family.
At this point, I had no idea what to do. I didn't have any plans of returning to Phoenix. I had submited a leave of absence and wanted to take the opportunity to travel. I drove back to Kansas, dropped off my car, and then 9/11 disrupted the plans.
I thought of staying in Kansas and almost choked on that fact. Actually, Lawrence has always had a soft spot in my heart. Yet, I was no longer a college student. I knew way too many locals and felt if I stayed there, it was likely that I would fall into a bottle (or two) of vodka. I did give it some thought, though. I would be closer to my sisters and maybe able to watch my goddaughter grow up, in person. I think Mackenzie was three at the time.
No, staying in Kansas was not desireable or going to happen. I bid adieu, again, to my sisters and parents and traveled around the states for about a month. It was eerie to fly. Most flights were partially filled. I think I got checked every time I went through security. Not a fan of that, either.
I returned to Phoenix, visited a friend from college in Santa Barbara, took the Amtrak to the most awesome city in my world--San Francisco and considered my options. I watched the playoffs and became a fan of specific players on the Athletics, Cardinals and Diamondbacks. I think I found an Irish Pub in every area of the city. It was time of trying to find peace within the world and understanding. I watched baseball with a group of older men and felt safe in that realm. Safe enough to accept a ride back to my hostel from one of the regulars. And, I bumped into my old boss from Phoenix while drinking in the Mission. That, too, was comical especially when I saw him a few weeks later and he had no recollection of our meeting in San Fran. Oh, alcohol....
Still, i had no idea what direction my life was heading. It just felt that I needed to stay in the States. Since I have always had an affinity for beer, it seemed natural to check out the Great American Beer Festival. I had connections from Phoenix where I could get free passes to the convention and my aunt, Bryn, lived in Denver. I called her and arranged to stay at her house for a few nights.
My friend, Jan, flew out to Kansas to meet my family. One night in Lawrence with Michaela, Jeremy and their crazy little terriers before spending one day with my mom, Jade, & Jasmin. Thankfully, it wasn't too overwhelming and we made it safely to Denver.
That was it. I knew my next city. Denver embraced me with lifelong friends, wonderful restaurants to explore, beer/wine (naturally), hiking, a love for running and Brian.
So, to me, inspite of how terrible 9/11 is...the tragedy that occurred, the lives lost, the hatred, I met my soulmate. For me, my course completely altered. Instead of exploring Greece or finding a prince to marry--yes, some of my friends actually thought this--I relocated to Denver and started a new life. A life where I pushed my limitations regarding relationships and love. I am so thankful for the time I had with Brian.
Isn't there a saying out of tragedy comes possibility? I don't know. I am a little emotional right now for the loss of life, the love of love and all of the emotions tied to today on a universal level.
I plan on taking time, for myself, to breathe, reflect and later, meet a childhood friend for lunch. Looking back on life, helps me balance where I want to be heading.
Find a way to enjoy the people in your life. This anniversary illustrates how precious each day truly is.