Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For Them, I'm Grateful

When I started writing and blogging almost three years ago I thought it going to be a mostly solitary affair. As a lifelong introvert with a passion for writing, I thought that writing was something that one most often does alone, and that was the way I liked it. The idea of toiling away in a semi-lit room with just myself, my thoughts and my computer was appealing to me, and even seemed a little romantic.

Yes, I was writing to be read, but mostly, I was writing for myself. I was writing because writing has always been my favorite form of expression. It has always been the way that I order my thoughts, make sense of the world, and make other people understand me. I have never been very good at talking through what was in my head, but give me a pen or put me in front of a computer, and as if by magic, it all appears on the page or the screen.

So I started blogging. I started writing down all of those thoughts in a place that has become a kind of time capsule. A place where I document my life, the good and the bad. A place I will be able to return to over the years and remember exactly how it was when I moved to the suburbs. When I finished a half marathon and then another one. When really bad things happened in the world. When history was made. When my family grew. And blogging fit me like the proverbial glove.

But blogging is not at all the solitary activity that I once thought it would be.

Because once I started taking it seriously, I found an entire community of people who do what I do. Who write down their thoughts and put them out into the world for anyone and everyone to read. And I become a part of this community. And it became a part of me.

The women I have met since I started blogging are smart, thoughtful and hugely talented, and they opened their arms to me and drew me into their mysterious and wonderful world. They read my writing, and I read theirs. I learned about them and they learned about me.  And they become my friends; friends just as real and true as any I have ever made in my life.

Their friendship has made me think, and has made me happy. And more than anything, it has made me brave. Brave enough to keep sharing pieces of myself. To keep telling my story. Because their friendship has also made me understand that there is a power in telling our stories and in sharing that connection with another person. Because, more often than not, there is someone else out there who has already walked the road we are walking; who can take our hand and show us the way.

These women have shown me the way.

Some of these friendships have stayed online with conversations on blogs, and e-mails, and promises to meet if we ever find ourselves in the same city at the same time. And some of them have jumped from the digital world to the real world, with phone calls and text messages and dinners with long, winding conversations. But all of them are special, and all are important.

And for them, I'm grateful.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Weekends, Merel Style

Deck. Sweatshirts. Sweatpants. Fireplace.

We're staying outside until the first flakes fall.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"...and we reach for the stars"

I posted this quote - one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite shows of all time - last year after the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I am re-posting it here because I think it is particularly apt for the events - and the people - we remember this week, here in New York and around the world.

"...More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom, and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive...The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They are our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels. But every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."
                                                          -President Josiah Bartlet
                                                           The West Wing, Season 4, Episode 2

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen Years Ago

Thirteen years ago I was a mere three weeks into my freshman year of college.

Thirteen years ago I was passing through the student center after an early morning class when I saw a huge group of students huddled around the TV.

Thirteen years ago I joined that group just in time to see the South Tower collapse. I was still standing there half an hour later when the North Tower fell.

Thirteen years ago I sat in the dorm room across from mine with two girls I barely knew and watched the news for hours. We knew each other very well after that day.

Thirteen years ago I watched as a girl on my floor tried to get in touch with her mother, who worked in the towers. She was safe, on her way to work but not quite there yet.

Thirteen years ago I watched another girl on my floor crumple to the floor in tears when she learned that her good friends had not, in fact, been on that United flight bound for Los Angeles, like she thought they were supposed to be.

Thirteen years ago I watched a roadblock set up at the entrance to lock down my predominately Jewish college campus located in the suburbs of Boston, ten miles from the airport where the planes took off. No one was allowed in or out without passing through security.

Thirteen years ago we all wondered what this would mean, and what would happen now.

Thirteen years ago today.

This morning on the train to work I sat next to two men who were talking about fleeing their World Trade Center offices on that day. We were sitting in the quiet car but not one single person told them to be quiet.

This morning Grand Central was filled with police and the extra security that always marks this day.

This morning I walked to my office in Manhattan. In this city that is my city now.

This morning I thought about the life I have built here and the memories that I have made here, and how proud I am to be here to experience the grit and glamour and energy of this city that is unlike any other.

This morning American flags lined my way to work, flying at half-mast to remind us all of the darkness of that day, and how nothing ever will be, or maybe should be, the same ever again.

Here are those flags.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On The Passing Of Time

I took this picture on Monday afternoon. 

I had just gotten off the train and instead of turning left to go to my parking lot, I turned right to go pick up my car from the dealership conveniently located right next to the train station where my car was waiting for me after an oil change.

This is a picture I quite like, so I have looked at it a lot since Monday. I guess it must have been cloudy for most of the day in White Plains, but just as the sun started to set the clouds started to burn away and for a few minutes the sky looked like this. It was breathtaking, and the picture doesn't nearly do it justice.

But this post isn't about a beautiful sunset dotted with storm clouds. Not really, anyway. 

It's about time.

Because the first thing I thought after taking the picture was that for the first time since we turned the clocks forward in March, the sun was starting to set before my regular train pulled into the station. For the first time in six months, I needed my headlights to drive home. For the first time since spring, the air is chilly when I leave my house in the morning and on my way home, and a few enterprising leaves have already started their turn towards the wild colors that mark the changing of the season.

School buses are driving the streets of my neighborhood again and pumpkin donuts are back. I just got a coupon in the mail for 99 cent apple cider and the candy aisle of my grocery store has taken on a distinctive orange and yellow hue. And probably most glaringly, two weeks from tonight I will be sitting around the dinner table with my family in Pittsburgh to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

And despite all that, it kind of still feels like summer just started. Like two minutes ago we were driving with the top down, headed to Washington for our Memorial Day celebrations.

Time is a funny thing.

Because way back in April, time seemed to stop. The days felt like years - every moment an eternity -  and I thought that maybe I was destined to live in April for the rest of my life. But I wasn't, of course. Because time moves on, and time heals, and April became May and as the world came back alive after a frigid winter and a spring too cold for all of winter's ice to melt, so did I.

And summer started with its sweaty days and balmy nights and I felt better than I had in months, and I had summer to thank for that. And even though summer seemed to fly, I tried to be present in my moments and in my days. To make memories of the season that brought me back to life; that made me laugh and smile and appreciate the place where I was, where I live my life and the people I have chosen to live it with. And I was. And I did. 

But time marches on.

So here we are. Moving into the season where the world turns golden brown, the air is spicy, football is back, and jackets are necessary, even though it feels like summer just started yesterday. But today, I feel ok about that. Because for the first time in a long time, I am happy and healthy and focused on what is happening right now; not what I want to happen or wish would happen or what might happen at some point in the future, but right now.

Like a picture of storm-clouds on sunset.

So the sun can set as early as it wants and I'll even open my coat closet for the first time in months. I'll wear a sweatshirt when I sit outside, and switch my Saturday morning coffee from iced to hot. I'll pull out my long-sleeved running shirts and watch as my gardener switches from lawn mower to rake.

And these things are ok. These things are good.

Because this is where I am right now. And these are the moments that matter.