Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crumbled Tower

It was the morning of September 11th. I sat at the table clutching a cup of coffee- praying that the sweet stimulant swirling beneath me would lift the haze of sleep and sadness I had been feeling. As the television buzzed indiscriminately in the background, something on the screen caught my attention. Haze shifted to focus as I turned up the volume and listened. Peter Jennings was reporting that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I remember his voice as he tried to grasp what was unfolding before the eyes of our nation; and the trembling in it as we watched the second plane hit in real time. I watched in horror with millions of other Americans as the first tower collapsed, as people jumped to their deaths, as the wounded emerged, and as the scared ran for their lives through plumes of smoke and ash.
Prior to these attacks, September 11th was a day like any other for many people. For me, it was not. My twin tower had collapsed a mere 10 days earlier when my brother Garrett was killed in a four wheeling accident.
The grief that our nation was experiencing; the loss of life and sense of security that we were collectively mourning, had already paid my family an unwanted visit. I was acutely aware of how short life could be, how awful and consuming grief really was, and how utterly cruel life could be in the wake of death.
Every September 11th I join millions of other Americans in remembering. I am reminded of the fallen men and women and their loved ones, the heroism of everyday people, the American spirit; and my brother Garrett- who would have been one of the first people to get into his car and drive down to help.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Random Journal Snippet: One Year Ago (1/6/2012)

I walked with speed and determination as I pushed the cart of groceries in front of me. I was not in the mood to check myself out on this particular trip to the store; and so began my search for a lane staffed by another human being. If it meant I would have to wait 10 minutes longer- I was okay with that.

As I scanned aisle after aisle, I realized that I wasn't the only one avoiding the self checkout lanes. What might have been 10 looked more like 20-30 extra minutes, and I was not in a place to give that time up to such frivolity. After a few observations, I was convinced that the seeming ineptness of every single cashier was actually part of a larger plot to "encourage" shoppers to choose the do-it-yourself lanes. I retreated to the lonely land of self checkout in disgust.

As I stood in line for what seemed an unreasonable amount of time, my eyes searched for something to entertain me. They landed on the gossip rags that surrounded me; and before I realized it- I was catching up on the latest Hollywood gossip. It occurred to me as I looked over the various headlines that I didn't recognize most of the people in them. It seemed the US had grown more obsessed with youth and some freaky family named the Kardashians while I was gone. Who the hell were the Kardashians anyway? Furthermore- why on earth did we seem to care more about their every move than what was going on in the rest of the world? When I could no longer take in the images or headlines pasted all over the magazine racks next to me, I widened my view and stared off at the signs and lights around me. It all felt so cold and foreign to me.

When I first arrived in Shanghai, I was overwhelmed with feelings of isolation at the strangest times. It was rarely in the quiet of my home that I encountered this sense of foreignness; but in the midst of the masses, grocery shopping, or surrounded by the hum of life and the glow of neon lights flashing all around. I remember longing for the warmth and familiarity of my home country at those times. And now I found myself standing in the midst of a similar coolness as I waited in line at the grocery store. A similar feeling of home sickness washed over me, and I found an almost cruel irony in the fact that the places I once deemed my "retreat- from- China" hideouts-were now the places I would go to feel like I was back "home" in Shanghai.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Space Between (random journal snippets) April 2012

My new normal is full of a host of thoughts, ideas, and challenges. Some days I revel in the beauty of clean air, green grass and the ability to drive myself and my children to the zoo.Other days I sit in the midst of a public space and contemplate the strangeness I feel. It's on these days that I feel like a foreigner in a strange land. It is in these moments that I feel an acute sense of disconnection from the world immediately around me, and I become uncomfortably aware of the fact that I am still trying to find my footing in this new space; still trying to find my rhythm and identity.