I didn’t realize how apropos the timing was for my recent trip to Jackson Hole, WY, until I was there.  I hadn’t been back since I moved a decade ago and memory upon memory came rushing back.  None were quite as strong as the morning of September 11th, 2001, the day that was planned for my going away party.  After a 6 month stint of living in Jackson turned into a 3 year one, I had made the decision to see what life would be like in New York City.  I went to bed on the 10th overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness for  leaving the breathtaking Tetons, but awoke to a much greater sadness,  that in retrospect affected me more than I realized.

At 6:50 am (mountain time) on the 11th I was awoken by the ringing of the house phone.  Assuming it was one of my roommates fishing buddies, I didn’t pick up.  Moments later I heard my name, my door opened, and my other roommate informed me I needed to turn the tv on.  Worry quickly set in and tears appeared before I could even see what was on the screen.  Immediately my worry was confirmed.  The call was from a friend working at the Jackson Hole airport, who remembered that my father worked in one of the twin towers.

It’s hard to explain exactly what I was feeling at that moment I saw smoke coming from the tower.  I do know that I was confused as to what was going on and couldn’t remember what building my father worked in.  Then the second building got hit, and suddenly what building he worked in didn’t matter.  Many calls were made to and from my house, but no one had heard from my father.  I remember thinking that he had to be in his office because on Tuesdays he had an early morning meeting.  Then I thought, okay if he was in the building it looked like the plane hit above where I thought I remembered his office to be, and it seemed likely he could have gotten out.  With that thought I found a sense of calm for a little bit.  Then I watched the first building fall, which at that point I knew was his building.  I went into shock and have to admit  I got a glimpse of the rest of my life without my father present.

Time was moving very slowly, and after what seemed like 4 hours but was probably only 2, I called my uncle, my father’s younger brother, as I wanted to hear a familiar voice.  My mother needed to keep her line open, and I couldn’t reach my brother or sister.  My uncle, in a very calm tone, informed me he had just gotten off the phone with my father, who was okay.  The gravity of the situation was still very much there, but I cried tears of happiness knowing my dad was alive.  And I couldn’t call him fast enough to hear his voice.

About a month after the tragedy, enough time to gain the courage to board a plane, I flew back east.  Life was moving forward again for people, and it was time for me to find a job.  However, my plan of moving into New York City didn’t seem as appealing anymore for many reasons.  Even with the feeling of unity, there was a darkness.  I went on numerous interviews, did a lot of temping, and much more soul searching, coming to the realization that New York City was not the place for me.  It was during this time I made the decision to become a Pilates instructor, because I wanted a job that I loved, not one I thought I should have.  The corporate world was one I thought I had to enter because I went to college, and that was the next step.  It wasn’t until after 9/11 that I realized how short life can be, and how important it is to make the most of it while you are on this earth.  I don’t want to have any regrets, and so far I don’t.

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