September 11th, 2001
I am doing my best to sleep in, when I am awakened by my younger sister and a phone. I’m in an unfamiliar place, my mom just moved into her first apartment along with my two younger sisters. It was a summer of struggle after leaving my father. On September 10th, it was my mom’s birthday and she had just started to mark this year of her life, “independent” while I am about to leave in a week for my new life in Chicago.
It’s a blur of light and the phone. I grab it and it’s my boyfriend, who’s already waiting in Chicago for me. He’s in a panic, guides me to a television, and explains what’s happening or what we are seeing happen when the 2nd plane came crashing in.
I am awake! I don’t get it. The panic and realization that he is so far away is setting in and he’s just panicking that I can’t get to Chicago where him and practically all my belongings are. Wait!? What about our best friend!? He left with my boyfriend and was supposed to leave for the Air Force that day. What is happening? Our world just felt that much bigger and smaller at the same time. We reluctantly hang up and just hope to talk to each other soon. These are the days before a good cell phone, and those long distance phone calls weren’t always reliable.
The rest of the day is a blur of television repeating the same horrific events over and over. Anchors giving speculation of what is next and what could come. What places have targets that possible terrorists could want to hit next? It gets hotter as all the cloud cover is gone and all planes are grounded. Into the evening we step on to the porch for the candle light moment of silence that the Nation has planned.
Eventually, I start to process. Wait, this has to be a sign! I need to stay here and help my mom with my sisters and see that she’s on her feet. I can’t leave… I end up voicing this much and then send my future husband even further into a panic. His best friend is there with him, but it’s not me and it’s not helping. He’s scared. Not even an hour later his father is calling me begging me to still come. I decide, if my flight is cancelled I won’t go.
Luck would have it, the flight I had lined up for my move, set for September 18th, is on United. Just as I was thinking that I could have already been in the air, thank God I had booked a flight one week later! The flight turns out to be one of the few that is cancelled.
Our future Air Force friend has been held in a hotel, then returned to my husband, and then taken back again. The military decides to strengthen their ranks and he now isn’t the only one of my friends deciding to join in serving our country. Patriotism is catching.
I give in and decide, not to “give in to the terrorist” and go ahead with my plans. I reassure myself now; nothing will get through to these airplane flights.
Seven days after the fateful day, I find myself in Lindbergh Field trying to navigate our new reality of travel. I have not only the last of my belongings but my 20 pound pug with me. The veterinarian had advised me to drug him for the flight, pre-incident. So there I am all my belongs, my dog, saying good bye to my family and San Diego, my home. They are no longer allowed to come up and wait for me and my plane to leave. They aren’t allowed to help me get across the new safety checks!
“Miss, you are going to have to walk the dog across, he can’t be in the carrier.” WHAT? Ok, get this sleeping dog out of his bag across this area and back in, oh yes sooo easy. :/ Needless to say I am terrified. I manage. I get across put on my strong face and wave goodbye and just pray that TV and news speculation of The Sears Tower being the next target is wrong.
I make it safely, but land in the new world where nothing is as we remember.