Throwback Thoughts

AMAZING NEW YORK ON 9/11/11

Today on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, I am happy to report that I have no intention of ever leaving this city again. My roots have been set. I lived in New York in 2001 and I on 9/11 was on vacation/recuperating in Atlanta with my parents. By the grace of God, I was not in New York because I was finishing up a job where I was fighting for union rights for the editorial staff of a pretty large media company. I was 24 and full of fire. I would take on the establishment, I didn't care. That's the beauty of New York. I can be young and I can change the world. It took me a couple of years to return to New York. I already had a weak stomach for the subways. For that, I can thank rats and construction re-routing that would leave me lost in parts of Brooklyn I didn't even know, although I spent so many summers there as a child.

But last night as I sat staring out the A-train window, buzzing back uptown from a writer's workshop in the Village, I can still do it. My biggest fear is to be underground and the city is under attack. But on 9/10/11, I did what I needed to do because it was important. The most amazing thing about this city is that if you are willing to face your fears, the city will gift you with the most amazing experiences you can have in one lifetime. In New York, I have been a reporter allowed to talk about women in Africa being mutilated, and their sisters trying to banish the old tradition. In New York, I've been allowed to create art, teach art, and show it all off to thousands of people. I can live as an artist among the thousands and thousands here. We feed off each other and support each other simultaneously. It is an amazing and special relationship.

In New York, when I am broke and down and there's nowhere to turn, my city government comes in and helps me. When I sit there and show them that I am a college-educated woman with experience struggling to find work, I am met with help. My city has my back. Sometimes it feels my mayor really does care about me personally. And I can be mad at him like he's family but forgive him because I know his heart is in the right place. How can a mayor do that with millions of people? For the life of me, I don't know how it happened, but over time I'd see him getting in the affairs of the average New Yorker, like pushing for an incentive program to get kids doing their homework and getting good grades. Or strengthening 311 so if we didn't have a 911 emergency, we still had a place to vent our complaints. Or supporting the parks department so I could get free trees and flowers to plant in front of my building and at my child's school. Or giving all New Yorkers free pools and free lunches for the children for the entire summer. Quality of life is important here. And it is not something gated off to one sector of the community.

There are a million reasons I could say New York is the best city in the world. Truth is, I can dream here and people don't look at me cross-eyed. I can dream that I want to paint like Basquiat, write like Walker, lead like King, and change the world like Moses. New York will let you do that, all in the same week.

I love this city. I honor the lives lost in protecting it today.

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