I wasn’t living in New York when it happened. I was in Cleveland, in a college art class working on drawings that I hoped would help me get to design school in New York or Europe. During a class break, my mom called. It sounded like the world was ending. Our teacher returned and said that we should all probably go home.
I made my way back to the music building. There were rumors that there were to be other attacks on downtown areas, and I was in the middle of downtown Cleveland. No one knew what to do, so I ended up following some school acquaintances to a house somewhat removed from the heart of the city. It felt so strange, being there with people I didn’t know well (I can’t even remember their names, but I can picture their faces). After a few restless hours, I decided that the world wasn’t over yet, at least not before I could make it somewhere I knew and felt safe.
The next couple of nights were spent at a good friend’s house. It’s funny those bonds you form in times of crisis. We have since both moved on in our lives and I don’t think that we ever spoke again about that period of uncertainty. For a few short days, it felt like time was frozen, but soon, life resumed.
My story isn’t one of being on the ground, near the towers, when they fell. I didn’t even see the impacts live on TV. What I do know is that 9/11 somehow marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I had already begun to let go of what I had worked so hard to achieve, a degree in classical cello.
Honestly, I had never felt very “American” before 9/11. I don’t typify the “American Ideal.” It wasn’t until I moved to Europe that I began to appreciate my roots in any tangible way. I will probably never be as openly patriotic as some, but I know that I am proud of the way that in a time of crisis, acquaintances became friends and unspoken bonds formed that will last a lifetime.
It’s disheartening that it can take a tragedy to bring out the best in humanity and make us forget the petty differences that divide us. Harvey was my first hurricane and we were spared for the most part of the physical damage, but I hope that I will never forget the way that Houston and America and the world have come together to bring little glimmers of hope and humanity.
Tragedy is a part of the fabric of what makes us human. It is in those times of crisis, when we are broken, that we can truly see that glimmer of what connects us all together.