Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Irony doesn't even begin to describe...

If ever there was an example of full circle, today would be the day to exemplify it.

I have been writing this post in my head and my heart for 6 years. I am writing from my heart which means I want the world to read it, but I want no one to read it. I'm scared to share with you who I am, but I'm proud to tell you of who I have become.

Six years ago today I was one month unemployed. One month prior I had a high paying job in the advertising world and was only moderately concerned about the dot combustion that was going on in the world around me. I was living with a significant other who was nice, but far from perfect. I dreamed of being a professor, teaching people, learning, growing. But my friends were all industrious, money making, too smart to go back to school and waste their time thinking instead of making a million before 30.

Six years ago today I was silently watching the days go by, enjoying the 405 club, in no rush to find an new gig or a new me.

Six years ago today I woke up to my boyfriends mom screaming on the answering machine, "LINDSAY, WAKE UP!!!" I always liked his mom but today I was starting to rethink that.
Cuddling in bed with little Smokey, I groaned and grabbed the phone.

Thank goodness, because that was the last human contact I would have for 8 hours.

Forgive me if I drone, but typing this is therapy. I digress...

Six years ago I sat on the phone with a hysterical mother, not mine, who was worried about her son, who took the train to work each morning to what used to be the tallest buildings in New York City.

Still groggy from the pitcher at Malachy's the night before, I reached for the remote and was quickly bound into an Armageddon not conceivable by the likes of Stephen King or Jerry Bruckheimer.

Did I mention that she was the last voice I heard for 8 hours?

I did speak to her for long enough to find out that her son, my boyfriend at the time, was alright. I heard that he had found a land line as all the cell service in the city was out, and that he was trying to make his way out of the mess downtown. I said goodbye so that I might call my parents, but when I went to pick up the phone again it was dead.

No dial tone, no busy signal, nothing. Air.

It was me, Smokey, and two plumes of smoke drifting high above the city. It was a heck of a first day for Paula Zahn. I remember thinking that over and over again, with my head stuck out the window watching the smoke rise and wondering if he would ever make it home.

I must have paced that block over a hundred times that day. At one point I turned off the t.v. but was so afraid of the silence I had to put it back on.

I stood on the roof to see the plumes of smoke, at this point the towers had collapsed.

Was I really awake? Please pinch me. Is this really happening? Please g-d tell me it was all a bad dream, that I had fallen asleep in a staff meeting and would wake up gainfully employed in a healthy, happy city.

No such luck.

To tell you of the horrific sight would be reliving something I don't think any of us want to think about. I will tell you instead of the sight that no one in the outside world was privy to. I will tell you about the droves of zombies that started making their way uptown that morning, or maybe it was afternoon.

At one point as I paced the block I noticed two people walking north, standing next to each other, covered in dust, wearing suits, wearing silence. Marching in step, in silence, in company, alone.

Soon there were more. Men and women walking strangely, silently, north. Away from the debris, from the Armageddon, from this dream that would surely be over as soon as someone might pinch me.

The moments that follow blend into one another although they felt like eons as I awaited his return home. He did return home, hours later. Unscathed, unharmed, untouched. Perhaps it was then I knew that he was certainly not the one for me.

I digress...

The days and weeks that followed found me at the Armory instead of the unemployment office. Instead of interviews I was serving bagels for breakfast and pasta for supper to the national guard and the relatives of the 'missing.'

Maybe this is really where it all started. Not maybe, definitely.

Standing in the kitchen at the Armory I was cooking along side the sous chef from 11 Madison and Tabla. By the hour the trucks appeared. City buses were filled with hungry men in fatigues, vans pulled up with the most notable chefs in the city. The chefs from One if by Land brought their famous lobster bisque just as the local Domino's sent in another 50 pizzas.

I climbed over barriers to bring bowls of warm soup to the police at the barricades, dropped off pies to the men in fatigues gathered at the door, got yet another pot of coffee for the mother sitting defiant of the fatigues and police, certain that her son was going to turn up.

Perhaps I first fell in love with food then, when I found a way to nourish these broken people the only way anyone could. Food and conversation.

No one was going to bring back their sons or daughters. No one could bring back their father or sister. But someone could nourish them while they sat, and mourned, and hoped. I wanted to be that someone.

It was also around this time that I decided to do something different with my life. Something with meaning. Something so great that if it were me who was stuck in that terrible place I would be able to leave this earth knowing that I did something that was important, if only to me.

I took a job in real estate to pay the bills. It was disastrous, but it helped me move out of the bad living situation, get a place of my own, and begin to pave the path to my future.

That fall I applied and was accepted as a NYC Teaching fellow. Funded by the Americorps grant, teaching fellows are pulled from all walks of life to teach in the most needy schools, in the most dangerous neighborhoods, and do the unforgiving job of teaching the youth who have otherwise been left to their own vices.

I was lucky to be placed in one of the more charming schools, but man were there some bad places to be...

I remember my first year teaching, the two year anniversary of the day my life really began.

While the kids stood to say the pledge of allegiance I turned my back to them and cried.

I cried for the people who senselessly lost their life. I cried for the stupid government who were taking even more lives so senselessly. I cried for the people who I served bagels to for breakfast and the police who looked at me strangely when I tried to explain how great it was that they were having world famous lobster bisque from One if by Land. I cried for my broken relationship.

I cried in thanks to g-d for giving me a chance to do something good. Something important, if only to me.

To digress... It was the summer before this first year of teaching that I took my first of several trips to Israel. The trip that introduced me to my besheret, my one. The summer when I came to find the real important things in life. The summer when I came to know that the only things worth living for are not really things at all, but people.

In the years I was blessed with my teaching job I saw more ways in which I could be useful. I had always dreamed of going to school for a doctorate but never thought myself capable, smart enough, good enough.

I mentioned the man I met in Israel? He thought I was capable of this highest distinction. He lent me the support I needed and held my hand while I trembled through the entrance exams, personal statements, rejections, and acceptances.

It has now been a while since things first transpired. Nearly finished with the doctorate I am more full than I could have imagined. I have found friends and soul mates. I have found inspiration and gratitude. I have overcome the biggest hurdle that ever held me back, me.

So today I sit in front of my computer. Typing for you, for me.

Six years ago today I thought all I had were pipe dreams.

Six years ago today I thought I would never actualize these fantasies.

This afternoon I teach my first Master's course after many years of hoping, and dreaming, and working, and crying, and learning.

Today, six years later, I have come full circle.

We have all had personal journeys that bring us to who we are today and I am so very proud of mine. If I had several days I could tell a deeper tale, but this is enough therapy for one day.

I cannot wait to see where I am six years from today. But for now, I am just so darned grateful to be where I am.


Anonymous said...

lindsay- this post touched my heart vera

countrygirlcityliving said...

Thank you Vera. It was honestly therapy for me to write, and it feels good to have it out. Now it's time to move onward and upward :)

Thank you for reading it and commenting.

Much love,

Michal said...

hi, lindsay.
i wandered over at david mcmahon's suggestion and got a deeper post than i had bargained for. thank you for sharing your experience on sept. 11, 2001, and for becoming a better person because of it.
i think one of the main reasons that i love to cook is because i love to provide that nourishment and nurturing to others. what a tremendous experience it must have been to do that for the people working, hoping, and searching at ground zero.
thanks for the great post. i'll be reading more.

david mcmahon said...

God bless you, Lindsay, for your power, your spirit, your resilience, your compassion, your wilingness to shed tears, your ability to move on - and your ability to recapture all the emotion in that amazing post.

This will do so much for so many ....

amandajean said...


thanks for sharing this.

countrygirlcityliving said...

you definitely picked an interesting day to visit. usually i'm all about creative meals and fun finds at the farmers market.
thank you for stopping by and i hope to see you around. next time i promise to be a little 'lighter' in tone!
all the best,

countrygirlcityliving said...

Thank you for validating my ramblings. Honestly! It was therapeutic to write and I'm glad you liked it.
All the best,

countrygirlcityliving said...

Sharing it was the hardest part and I'm glad you read it and liked it. Maybe this is a nudge to actually write again.

Or maybe I should stick to the cooking stuff :)

All the best,

indicaspecies said...

This is a lovely post that is beautifully narrating your emotions. It left me feeling hopeful and positive. :)

Anonymous said...

Your mind and heart holds such valuable and thought provoking information. Thank you for putting into into words and sharing. I continue to grown with you, in all you do.
I love you,
nancy b

Stacy said...

Beautiful post, Lindsay. It can be hard to share something so personal, but I'm so glad you did. A good story to remind us of what is important and to follow our dreams.

countrygirlcityliving said...

I am glad it left you with an optimistic outlook. It makes me sad to say that such a terrible atrocity was the catalyst to my now fulfilling life, but I guess that's what they mean by silver linings.
All the best to you,

countrygirlcityliving said...

Nancy B-
Thank you for your endless encouragement. I cannot wait to write my acknowledgment page for my dissertation, you will be in the first sentence :)
Love you to the moon.

countrygirlcityliving said...

Thank you for the words of encouragement! I think it is important to never take things for granted and appreciate what we have in every moment!
Thank you for reading.
All the best,

Helena said...

Isn't it strange to look back and compare our new selves with what we were then?

Just yesterday I was reading a journal I kept in 2003, a log of a person sliding downwards into terrible depression. At one point i had written that I couldn't see myself being alive in 3 years time.

I'm still here, still struggling, but wiser, and coping with it better.

Your post made me wonder how things might be in another three years. Thanks. I've been low this week. You reminded me that it's all a path, ever changing and moving forward. I might nto be enjoying this bit, but I don't know where it's leading to.


countrygirlcityliving said...

It sure is impressive what a difference a year makes. For what it's worth, I'm glad you are here 3 years later. And you must know that your writings are and inspiration to many people.
Thank you for visiting!
All the best,

Colleen said...

THis is simply beautiful and moving, tender and real. I appreciate that. It's deep and sincere.
Inspiring to me!

Sara said...

I'm not even sure how I wondered into your blog, but I am so glad I did after reading this post. Thank you for sharing your story about that day that the world changed for all of us. It brought tears to my eyes, both from remembering the event, and from understanding the depth of change it brought into your own life. I wonder how many other such stories are out there, waiting to be told. Thanks again for sharing from your heart.