Support the Work

If you have found the information on this blog useful, enjoyable, candid, or inspirational ... help keep it reader supported, journalistically driven, available to all, and advertiser-free. If you are able and inspired to do so, please consider a subscription to this blog. You can drop a dime or two every month, every year, or whenever you feel moved.

It will keep me writing, gathering facts, and interviewing the experts.




Parent / Sponsor



Join The Email List

Get Tastiness to Your Inbox

* indicates required
« How Can Parents Feel Less Stress with a Food Allergic Child in School? Interview with Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP | Main | Review: Bistro Bella Vita serves up a "Foodgasm" when dishing for patrons with allergies »

Remembrance: The Great Walk

This isn't about food, but originally posted on 9/11/2010 on my other blog, Blue Pearl Girl.  Reposted to both blogs on 9/11/2011, the 10 year Anniversay, in dedication to the First Responders who are still experiencing the effects of their courage; and who are still losing their lives today.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for what you have done and for all that you do.  May the powers-that-be do the right thing, and give you the healthcare and support you need.


Too Many Stories

 I had never intended to write about it, and I hope no one will ever have to experience anything like it again.  Neither in our nightmares nor in our realities.  But there is something about that day that I always want to remember.


I hesitate, because as far as stories go, there are more than can be accounted for.  And there is no way to do them justice.  They are too surreal, too personal and too emotionally diverse.  But there are many stories that I remember and honor on this day.  From the story of a friend who lost hold of his coworker’s hand as he tried to save him but never saw him again.  To the man who was the last one on the elevator as it left the 84th floor.  He watched as the door closed on his coworkers who patiently waited for the next car -- each unaware that this elevator car was the last.  When he got outside, he saw the 2nd plane blow a hole through his workplace.  It is the story of a friend who felt the heat of explosion and without knowing what had happened, left all of her belongings and got onto a ferry.  She didn’t pause to look up as many so fatefully did.  That instinct saved her life.  The story continues with a stranger who pushed a lucky man into the doorway of the neighboring building.  This stranger threw himself on top of my friend as the rubble crashed where they had just been walking.  The two men then ran to in separate directions, my friend to safety, the other, who knows.  It is the story of my coworker who flew in from L.A. on the red eye.  He left less than 2 hours before the high-jacked plane.  He awoke from his nap at 8:51 a.m. thinking he had been buried alive.  He rescued one neighbor's dog; then he and another neighbor huddled in the kitchen as the towers fell around them.  Ironically, he could have lost his life twice that day, but died unexpectedly 6 years later.  It is the story of the firemen who rushed in as others rushed out – many losing more than 100 of their friends.  Families upon families, devasted.  The stories go beyond each person, and beyond New York -- to Washington, Pennsylvania and around the world.  Too many stories to do any of them justice, even in their telling and retelling, even though the stories need to be told and remembered.  One story that I wish to remember here is the one about the millions who walked, including a man who walked 20 or so miles back to his wife who gave birth on September 12, 2001.


The Questions

It seems like you either lost everyone or no one that day.  I was one of the lucky ones.   I had worked in the World Financial Center for seven years before changing jobs a couple of years earlier.  The towers weren't just towers to me, nor were they to most anyone else.  When I walked out of the office around noon, a sea of stunned people filled the streets.  No cabs.  No cars.  No subway nor bus.  No phone service.  All of us wondering where the people we loved might be and if they lived.  Just a sea of every color, creed, religion, character, head covering, political belief, age and marital status – all walking together. 


I walked with my friend Andy.  What a gift he was and is.  By the time we emerged onto the street, survivors from lower Manhattan had made it to our position on 36th Street and 8th Ave. Every color, creed, religion, character, political belief, head covering, age and marital status -- they were covered in the ash of the buildings.  They were covered in the ash of their fellow human beings.  Stunned, grey ghosts from every walk of life emerged and walked with us to the Upper West Side or to Queens or to the Bronx.  Some walked all day.   All walked next to someone who could inspire suspicion, and all walked next to someone who had just lost a loved one, but didn't know it yet.  All were walking somewhere.  I walked a mere mile and a half.  Another good friend, J.D. walked 8 miles just to sleep on my couch so I wouldn’t be alone.  Another gift I will never, ever forget.


As we walked, we strangers and friends worked out our feelings toward one another.  We remembered what we had learned about each other when working side by side, by doing business together, by talking daily about politics, prices and the weather.  We remembered who we are.  There was no room for hatred based upon assumptions or misunderstandings.  We knew too many people had died.  Too many people relied upon each other.  We, the strangers who walked, helped each other measure the health of both our trust and mistrust – using experience, behavior and instinct as our guide, not ignorance, fear and pride.  To say there was no evil afoot, no crazy extremism in our neighbors would be foolish.  The weekly bomb threats on our blocks kept reminding us of that.  But we, the strangers, and we the friends, were each other’s support.  I’ll never forget how a co-worker’s Catholic husband insisted that his Muslim wife not wear her scarf – he did not want her to become a target of violence.  He wanted her to be safe.  She wanted to respect her faith and be herself.  They compromised on a baseball cap.  A coworker walked her to work for months until potential danger toward her had quieted.  I’ll also never forget the many faces, accents and cultures who later gathered spontaneously around a radio in a cab or in front of a store window TV – all talking, all sharing information, all measuring our suspicions and all participating in multi-cultural solidarity.  


And I think this happened partly because we couldn’t get into our cars and separate ourselves. 


The Remembrance

I love New York because it is a city where people tell it like it is, no matter what their opinion might be (and they often show it, too).  Though New Yorkers crowd the streets every day, it is usually in equal but opposite directions.  If a brilliant architect or engineer could look at the movement of the city from an aerial perspective, I’m sure they could find some divine pattern that simply seems like chaos on the ground.  But that day, 8 million people from every imaginable demographic not only all walked, we walked together -- unmistakeably -- in the same direction. 


I learned a great life lesson from my fellow New Yorkers that day.  Not a political one.  And not a religious one.  As the shock hit, as the American flags flew up around us, as the military entered the subway, as the food dwindled in the stores and restaurants, and as the black cloud of ash entered our lungs and then circled our lives for months-- there could have been retaliation, violence – but there wasn't.  We simply walked.

It was powerful, it was strange, and it was comforting.  So I find myself writing today.  Because no matter how crazy things get, no matter how many opinions, viewpoints and shouting matches there are, no matter how the facts are gotten right, gotten wrong or are warped …. I want to remember how good people can be, how rationally and intelligently we all can behave.  Amidst the horrible acts that people do and teach each other to do, I want to remember how we can walk together without ego, without hatred and with a humble awareness of what we might not know.  Yes, we need to be smart.  To protect ourselves.  But my hope is that we can walk together toward who and what we love instead of in opposition to what we think we hate. I hope instead of taking a "position", we can look at our humanness and learn.  I hope we can help each other do that, too.  Because in spite of (or because of) our different experiences, we really need each other.  We really do.


In dedication to all who lost their lives and loved ones.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.