Two months ago one weekend leading up to Christmas, I hopped on a Megabus to New York City en route to spend a few days with one of my oldest friends. Elena and I met in Kindergarten, were both “clover buds” in the 4-H group that her mom lead, and played soccer together on a team coached by her dad for five years. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that at least half of my childhood memories involve Elena and her family in some way, which is why I’m so thankful to still count their incredible family among my closest friends. It’s a wild thing to have people in your life who new you before you had any inkling of who you wanted to be or what your biggest dreams were.
Elena is an actress living and working in New York City. Can I just type that again? Elena is an actress living and working in New York City!! And she’s not just getting by—my girl is thriving there. I couldn’t be more proud of the life she’s made for herself in the Big Apple, and I had so much fun getting to spend a weekend in her world! Elena showed me all over the city, took me to all of the most wonderful shops, and made sure we had plenty of incredible food. Bonus? I got to see this talented lady perform at her acting studio’s end-of-year showcase! Proud friend moment if I’ve ever had one!
So, it’s two months later and I still think about how wonderful my visit to the city was. We packed SO much into three days! One of the most incredible parts of my visit happened just a few hours before I had to catch my bus home, but I was so glad that we could fit it in. On a bitterly cold Monday morning, Elena and I made our way down to Manhattan’s Financial District to visit the 9/11 memorial. I knew it was going to be a moving experience, but I had no idea just how emotional being in that place would be. After schlepping through the subway with my bags and about half an hour of standing in a security line that felt more like an airport than a memorial, we turned the corner into the site of the two pools. Almost immediately, the emotion of it all hit me square in the face and the tears began rolling without my control. I ran my hands across the names of souls that I would never know and looked at the endless falling water flowing in a place that was once marked by flames and smoke. It was overwhelming.
With all of those emotions stirred up—the sorrow for lives needlessly lost, the anger at the injustice of it all, the complete incomprehension that such awful acts happen in our world—I didn’t know how to react. So I did the one thing I knew to be familiar and I pulled out my camera. Even now, looking at these pictures on my laptop screen in my room, I still get swept back. I can’t recommend visiting this place enough, but be prepared: you will leave being touched by the memories of the people who lost their lives that day. There’s no way that I can do the memorial justice by writing about it in a blog post. It’s something I truly hope you’ll have the chance to experience for yourself.