So why New York? Why the New York Marathon and not the Houston, Boston, Great Ocean Road, Alice Springs or even the Maratona de Santa Catarina? Why then out of the 1,133 marathons being run this year around the world choose New York, USA?
New York holds some sort of mystique for me. Our lives have been intertwined ever since 2001 and it calls to out to me as would a long forgotten lover. It beckons to me. Flirts endlessly. Teases me with its excitement and wonder and whispers endless promises. For my part, I have played the role of the unrequited love and ignored all of her advances. But still she calls…
By June 2001 I had reached a professional high and decided that nothing could match the year, the experiences, and the fun. So like all level headed professionals I did what needed to be done and quit my job of eleven years! Rash, possibly. Impetuous, maybe. Exhilarating, most definitely! Initially I was head hunted as a security and risk management professional and my CV was used in proposals for contracts all over the world. 9/11 changed all of that for me. After that people tightened their security but were also very careful with whom they let in their inner sanctum. An a non-American I was ruled out of a lot of those sort-after jobs, one being on the security management team for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. But where doors close, others open and within a few weeks of 9/11 I found myself working in Singapore advising companies on how they could best operate in an ever changing environment. The US war in Afghanistan had begun and the region was not sure how to react among all the fear campaigns from all sides.
Still on a high from the year so far I decided to take it one step further and pack up my house, relationship and life in Australia and move to France. Why? To learn French of course! I decided to create my own future on my own terms and create a reality to fit my desired lifestyle, which at that point in time was to work for the United Nations. After six months I found myself landing in Kabul with a contract working for a French aid agency. It was initially a nightmare. My bags were lost and in my hungover state of leaving Paris I didn’t think to bring any money. I was my own nightmare. But on my first day in Kabul I met my husband. A friend of mine who had been working in Afghanistan came around to visit and say a quick “g’day” and he brought one of his American colleagues.
It wasn’t love at first sight, but definitely a bit of intrigue. His story is intertwined with New York and although not mine entirely to tell I will touch on the main points. He was in New York during 9/11. Had rushed to the aid of those trying to escape the myriad of debris. He had worked in the Middle East previously and after 9/11 spent time trying to appease some of the hatred as the two cultures clashed. In the end he made his way to Afghanistan to make peace and to ensure that what he knew in his heart about the Afghans was still true and that ultimately they as a group were not responsible for the attack against his country-men.
Every year now when we return to the US for Christmas or for Easter my husband promises that we will go to New York. For New Years, to visit friends, to hang out. Whatever the reasons is unimportant, what is is that I have never been. So New York continues to call me. She waves to me wearing a translucent smoky black veil covering up just enough for me not to see. She taints me with all of the lost opportunities of good times and laughs at the misfortunes that I suffered because of her. She also smiles knowingly because my family and current life are intertwined forever with her and she knows that when the time is right I will come.