Can I be frank with you? This isn’t easy


I never thought I’d move from NYC. I never thought I’d run a half marathon. I never thought I’d be able to rough it, sleeping on a cot in a sleeping bag jn a tent, working around the clock to follow the world’s most deployed urban search and rescue team.

It just shows you that you can do anything, even most things you think you can’t.

I must admit, the hardest has been leaving NYC. Many people find Manhattan overwhelming. I found it home. I know every street, and which ones to avoid. I know you never try and get a cab between 4p and 5p. I know the names of the two lions that guard the New York Public Library (Patience and Fortitude. You’re welcome). And I know where to buy groceries so I don’t get ripped off. In short, I know NYC. I have the most fun, quirky, adventurous, thoughtful, loyal set of friends there a person can be blessed to have.

I don’t know DC, and it’s surrounding areas. Nor did I ever want to know it. I also didn’t have any friends here. I’m being honest. But, I’ve been here for a year and a half, and I’m embracing every day and what it has to offer. No, I don’t have my neighborhood bodega yet, or my old, been-here-forever watch repair guy. But, I have a few spots where I can say hi to people I know, a few new good friends who are there for me when I need them, and it’s getting better every day. But, the best part of it is that I’m growing, I’m out of my comfort zone, I now know I can live anywhere and where I call home doesn’t define me. And that is freedom.

Which brings me to the mission at hand. Photographer Kurt Brooks and I are embedded with Virginia Task Force 1, one of the most deployed urban search and rescue teams in the world. We’re at a training facility in Perry, Georgia. But, they treat this training as if it’s the real thing, so we might as well be at a natural disaster site. Camping is not something this Manhattanite ever thought of doing. But, here I am sleeping on a cot, getting up at 2am, forgoing showers and hair washing, all to be able to tell great stories, and to get a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to see something I’d never see – how an elite urban search and rescue team operates under different rescue scenarios. These are the men and women who go to Iraq, Haiti, Japan, New Orleans and other places in the most horrific of circumstances. They see the worst tragedies up close. And they are so welcoming to us. I’m grateful for this opportunity for a variety of reasons, but personally, it is very satisfying to know I can do this. Sure, I can tell a story, my forte is to make a whisp of an idea come to life, in a conversational and compelling way. I’ve been doing that for years. Not everyone can do that, but I can. And I’m proud to say that. But, if I can be frank, I never thought I could withstand cold and little sleep plus food I’m not used to – and then there’s the 3 layers of pants, 4 layers on top, steel toe shoes and hard hat (not quite the attire I’m used to) – in order to tell 4 days and 3 nights worth of rescue missions. The days are long and the nights are longer. But, if you do something that is outside of your comfort zone – you can surprise yourself and set yourself free from the limitations that you previously allowed to define you. You can do anything.

We’ll have more from the front lines of today’s rescue mission later today. But, I just wanted to share these 90 seconds of inspiration with you. What do you think you CAN’T do? What if you changed that word to CAN? Think about it.




2 Comments Add yours

  1. Khadia says:

    You are a superwoman. Debra you amaze me with your honesty and willingness to always be real. Great article keep them coming. Can’t wait to see the piece you’ll put together on this remarkable team

    1. dalfarone says:

      Your words mean the world to me!

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