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Queen City Anniversaries

by Jaime Bedrin

November 2,2003

Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to leave home, work very hard and become successful. I equated achievement with independence. And even though I am attached to my family, I needed space.

In August 2001, a few months after my 25th birthday, I left New York City for Charlotte. I had just received my graduate degree in journalism, and I was planning to work as a reporter. Charlotte offered me my first professional radio job.

My family said our goodbyes over lunch at a neighborhood bistro. My mother held back tears when my father walked me to my ’93 Honda. I hugged my parents and told them I would be fine in Charlotte. Besides, I had my cat, Nina, to keep me company, and cousins in Raleigh. I was only an hour away by plane. We could visit any time.

Eleven days later I realized just how far I was from home. At a little after 8 o’clock, September 11th, 2001, my parents called to tell me they had heard that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center. They were on a bus on their way into New York City, not far from the Lincoln Tunnel. I didn’t think the incident was very serious, but since I am a reporter, I called into work anyway, and learned that the Pentagon was aflame. The news team scrambled to cover the biggest story of our lives. Some colleagues cried openly. I had been at work one week, and I was convinced that I’d never see my parents again.

I’ve been in Charlotte a little over 2 years and I’ve found the process of negotiating my success in the Queen City awkward. After all, every anniversary of 9/11 is an anniversary of my arrival.

Somehow, amidst the chaos of those first 3 months in Charlotte, I did manage to experience what I set out to do in the first place. Despite minor loneliness and a longing for my favorite brand of Friendship cottage cheese, I was succeeding in Charlotte as a reporter and as a woman.

My father tells me I’m lucky to have left Manhattan when I did, and I know he’s right, but somehow there is still a part of me that feels uneasy enjoying my new life in Charlotte while friends and family back home struggle to make things right again.

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