Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Carousel of Time

This post was written while I was sitting on the train heading down to Maryland on the afternoon of September 12th:

Besides the obvious dates – birthdays and New Year’s Eve – I mark the passage of time in my own life with the help of a bundle of recurring events and anniversaries. Yesterday marked one of those anniversaries, albeit, not a happy one. Six years ago, I had just completed a summer internship on Capitol Hill after graduating college, and was enjoying a couple of weeks of vacation before moving up to New York to begin my new career as a business consultant. On the morning of September 11th, I played tennis with my good friend Bob, a career foreign service officer at the State Department and my regular tennis partner whenever I’m in Maryland and the weather is nice. I returned home from our game at just before 9AM and decided to flip on the television while I was cooling down. From that moment onwards, I remained glued to the television, along with the rest of my family, for the whole day, never even changing out of my tennis clothes.

Two weeks later I moved into a transformed city – a city that no longer radiated the vibrancy and bustle that I had expected – but instead was overwhelmed by a shadow of grief. Now, six years after the fact, I’ve made my home here. Though the trauma of September 11th is far from over, it’s amazing how each year the pain of the attacks becomes a little less acute, and the memorial services become smaller and less elaborate. I remember the first year after the attacks hearing bagpipes mournfully sing their way down the streets from the Upper West Side all the way down the attack site for the memorial service. I also remember going to work that day and being literally paralyzed by the sense of loss that I felt and that pervaded the city. Six years later I haven’t forgotten, but I, and the rest of the city, have overcome the most gripping moments of pain and in a certain sense, have moved on.

Today marks another, happier, occasion that also marks the passage of time for me – the beginning of the celebration of the Jewish New Year. One friend of mine sends out an annual email around this time of year describing all the major milestones he passed and events in which he participated since the previous year’s email. Though I haven’t adopted that practice, I do take the time to reflect on how I’ve changed in the past year and on what I envision for the upcoming year. For the first time in quite a few years, I feel like this past year I’ve grown into my own skin and become more confident about my goals and aspirations (though I have yet to make a decision about what I want to do after I graduate law school!) Whereas last year started on a sour note because I was going through a rough break-up at the time, this year I feel happy with the direction of my life and with the choices I’ve made. My contentment is only disrupted by the serious illnesses that have, in the last few months, affected the lives of several people to whom I am close – my grandmother, for one, as well as several close friends. More than anything else, I hope this upcoming year is marked by their collective improved health.

When I reflect on my year in 12 months, I’ll be in a much different place than I am now. By then I will have graduated law school and will most likely have moved from New York. Nevertheless, I know also that when next year rolls around, in many ways I’ll be the same person I am today, continuing to pack my brown bag for lunch and to stay active in the causes that inspire me. Marking the passage of another year gone by and looking forward to the promise of the twelve months ahead, Simon & Garfunkel’s famous words from "The Boxer" ring true:

After changes upon changes, we are more less the same;
After changes, we are more or less the same.