When we finally got back onto dry, unmoving land, Sara and I got re-situated at Anker and met up with one of our friends who booked a flight from the UK on a whim. Continue reading “A Brit, two Americans, and fifteen Russ kids walk into an ice bar…”
Do you remember where you were?
Endless sapphire skies.
Fourteen years have passed since my country’s course was forever altered, and September 11, 2001 is still my most vivid childhood memory. I was sitting in my fourth grade classroom, ready to take the spelling quiz we were due to take. The phone on Ms. Tielking’s desk kept ringing, and every time she hung up another kid left the classroom. By lunch time all the grades were together; there were hardly any of us left. We didn’t have a clue what had happened but teachers’ eyes were red & puffy and the doors had all been locked. Blinds were drawn on every window. We never took our quiz.
Sometime after lunch Ms. Tielking hung up the phone again. She looked at me and, without a word, I packed my bag and walked downstairs like so many other children had. My brother and I were met by our parents near the office; they ushered us into dad’s SUV and we drove home. Sometime in the 5 miles between the school and our house, we asked what had happened.
“Terrorists attacked New York and Washington,” my dad answered. No sooner had we pulled into the driveway than my parents hurried us to the living room. They told us about the planes, the buildings collapsing, the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who kept a fourth plane from reaching the hijackers’ planned destination. We sat together, my mom never letting go of me and Ross, running her hands through our hair, and though I didn’t grasp the enormity of what had happened I knew things would never go back to the way they were Before.
The next morning my dad walked me down to the bus stop. The sky was still a clear, cloudless blue, a sign that the world pushed onward even as our country was paralyzed from coast to coast. I looked up, where the flight paths between airports could almost always be seen, and I told my dad I was scared. He stopped, gently took my hand in his, and said I couldn’t be scared. If I was scared-if we were scared-then the attackers won.
How could I not be? I asked. And he reminded me that we have always persevered. Our country was strong and, even through the loss and destruction and confusion and pain and tsunami tides of grief, we would come through this because we always did. America was built on the will to survive, and through our willpower we would move ahead. Never forget, he told me, but don’t be stuck on yesterday. Never forget, he said, but don’t let fear rule you.
Traveling somewhere new is, without fail, exhilarating and unnerving all at once. I’ve been to the UK and Europe plenty of times, for school and leisure, but for the first time in my life I’ve packed up a year’s worth of clothing & mementos, said goodbye to my childhood home for at least a year-maybe even longer-and begun my transition to a city I’ve never visited before in my life. I did manage to keep both my suitcases under the weight limit, though!
I realize millions of people have packed up and left their hometowns in pursuit of an unclear dream; from the beginning of mankind to now humans have moved, willingly or not, in hopes of bettering their lives and those of people they care for. I am incredibly fortunate in that my choice was voluntary; unlike the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees escaping a civil war by any means necessary, I simply wanted to move abroad and study. If, like me, you’ve been confused by the stories flooding in, Mashable created a very interesting & heartbreaking article showing the refugee breakdown in map & text form. Check it out. Anyhow, my life has been privileged enough where I could afford to take a year off between earning my Bachelor’s Degree and beginning my Master’s program. I have parents who are supportive and able (and willing, on top of that!) to visit me while I’m gone. Cousins from both sides of my family live within a few hours’ flight from Aberdeen. So as frightened and unsure as I may be, this is actually quite the easy move.
Don’t get me wrong, my feelings of uncertainty and trepidation are still valid. That others are enduring more hardship than I am does not diminish the fact that I, as a person, am scared. Excited as well, of course, but still scared. And if you are ever in a situation where you feel something-fear, happiness, loneliness-I hope you never think that you don’t deserve to feel that way. Emotions and feelings are an integral part of our human nature; to experience such sensations is such a blessing because it means we are still here to endure it all. All I ask is that as you allow yourself to feel whatever is coursing through you right now, you try and find the light in it all. Because our experiences, be it moving to a new country or dealing with a loss, accepting a new job or even having a bad visit with the dentist, have a place in our lives. We may never know what that place or lesson is (other times it’s painfully obvious) but I believe there is very rarely an occasion that has no significance in our cosmos.