Ten years ago on a beautiful September morning I was rushing around the house getting my things together. I had just called the taxi to come. I wanted to catch a 9am train into Manhattan. I was excited and nervous. In just three days I was going to leave for a trip around the world. Everything was ready to go except for one thing, I had to go into the city to get my visa for India. I had my bag in my hands and I was watching out the window for the taxi when my phone rang. It was my mother. I almost didn't answer it. She was not thrilled with my decision to travel around the world for a year by myself. I picked it up on the third ring. I heard her on the other end saying that something was happening and I couldn't go into Manhattan. I wasn't really listening and began talking over her. I remember getting frustrated with her and basically telling her I was going, whether she liked it or not. Finally, she got through. She said,"Kate, turn on the news. You're not going anywhere." She was right. I wasn't going into the city or anywhere for that matter. I turned on the television. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The first tower had been hit. News reporters were saying that a small private plane hit one of the towers. But there was so much smoke. Suddenly, I saw a small speck in the lower right hand corner of the television. Before I could process what it was it smashed into the second tower exploding as it hit. I couldn't make out what the reporter was saying. I was scared. The whole thing was so dreamlike. It took a few minutes before I knew what was really happening.
Those first few days I didn't want to believe that my trip would have to be canceled or postponed but I knew it would be. I remember the morning I was supposed to leave sitting on the back patio looking up into the sky. I could still see particles in the air from the fallen towers. I was numb but I knew I was among the lucky ones. No one in my immediate family was killed. A few came very close, but somehow made it out.
Soon, the smoke cleared. I saw my fellow New Yorkers change right before me. We were no longer rushing past each other eyes fixed. People looked at each other. People listened to each other. Shock turned to collective pride and I began to feel uplifted by the sense of community I felt. This feeling is what I held onto. This is what motivated me to continue on my interrupted path.
I never did take that trip. Instead, I headed in a new direction. I used the money I would have used for hostels, transportation and meals to pay for a masters degree. I still ended up traveling the world but, instead of doing it as a penny pinching backpacker I live and work abroad. I get to know the countries I visit more intimately. Along my path I have changed. I have become more compassionate and patient and friendly. I am truly blessed.
Ten years later I am still uplifted by humanity.
Ten years later I find myself on another interrupted path. I wonder in what direction it will take me. I wonder where it will lead me. I wonder how it will change me.