Posts Tagged ‘ September 11 ’

An Uplifting Poem For New York

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

We all know New York is struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. All five boroughs. New Jersey too. But we also all know what a resilient city it is. One only has to remember September 11th.

My niece Rachel visited us when we lived in Brooklyn. During her senior year of high school, she wrote this poem.  I was just so impressed by her insight and perception. She was only 14 years old when she came, but the memory held on so vividly.

She is now a freshman in college, studying journalism. I’ve been saving this poem for the right time to post. Figured now is it. Just like Sinatra says, “Come on, Come through, New York, New York, New York.”

 The Sole of New York, New York

By Rachel Johnston 

The sun shines above the smog,

illuminating life, language, and love

for this city’s bright eyes.

New shoes become old and worn here

within a mere morning of travel.

They’re sore, bruised, dirty,

but singing a Sinatra tune.

They smile as they conquer

miles of concrete, of storefronts,

of Main Street, of Wall Street.

They look to the sky.

Feed us, they say.

They stumble down stairs

that reveal a dark underworld.

Sparks, rats, bustling bodies,

the homeless and the senseless.

They stumble up stairs

that break through to daylight.

Toes scuffed and laces soggy,

the shoes smile still

just now with broken teeth.

This time, they peer down

at tiny taxis and tacky tourists.

They are not afraid of heights;

they are indestructible, unstoppable.

They are on top of the world.

These soles are experienced,

enlightened, musically inclined,

bold, logical, beautiful, free,

native to city life.

Photo of NYC Skyline via Shutterstock

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September 11th: The 10-Year Anniversary

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

I was in the air when the first plane hit. Three minutes later I landed in Newark, oblivious to the world collapsing.  Twelve hours later I would make my way to our apartment and fall, sobbing into my husband’s arms. Oblivion replaced by sorrow.

We had just moved to New York City 3 weeks prior.  Phil was about to start his Master’s in film at Columbia.

My flight on September 11th was supposed to be at noon. I was traveling home from a Food Network appearance in Cincinnati.  For some reason at the last minute I decided to change to the 6 a.m. flight. Unbeknownst to me, karma was on my side.

As our plane descended I distinctly remember looking out the window and seeing the towers. I remember feeling so lucky—so alive–to be living in this great city and starting this new adventure.

At that point in my life, kids were not part of the plan. I had no interest.

In the days following the attacks, I mourned like the rest of the country. Shell-shocked by the hate, inspired by the love.

Years went by and September 11th became part of me, just like it did for most of us. It was always there, serving as a timeline in life. “That was before 9/11.” or “That was after 9/11….”

On December 2, 2009, Fia came into our world. The cocoon we created during our stay in the hospital was nothing short of magical, even surreal. It was a bubble of warmth, safety and love.  I felt panicked when it was time to go home. I knew nothing about taking care of a baby.

Phil and I gingerly loaded her into our rented car. I got in the back with her and we began the trek from 168th and Broadway to Brooklyn. It was snowing. Phil drove about 40 mph down the West Side highway. We were paranoid new parents.

When we passed Ground Zero I looked out the window and began to feel a heaviness like I’ve never felt before. It was deep and sad. It carried the responsibility and burden of bringing a life into this world.  It said, “This is a dangerous place full of hate. Why did you do this to something you love so much?” It said, “This is an unworthy world. You are selfish.” Had I been standing, this profound pain would have taken me to my knees. I tried to push it away and force happy thoughts. As I looked down at my tiny, sweet baby I thought, She has no idea what her world outside the womb is.  But it’s my job to teach her. And love her no matter what.

I believe it was at that moment that the real burden of parenthood began.  I carry it with honor, understanding and respect. I’m on my 21st month now and will continue to carry it as long as I’m lucky enough to walk this world. This is life and it is fleeting. It is only by the grace of god, go I.

First Moments

First Moments

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