Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Then and Now

I'll never forget where I was nine years ago this past Saturday.  Oh dear Lord, of all places I could have been.  Unless I’ve told you, you would never guess.  We had moved back to Atlanta.  I was working at Lockheed again.  I believe I came into work early that day before leaving for my doctor’s appointment.  Oh, the dreaded appointment…the annual physical.   For us women, well, it’s just not the most exciting thing we have to do you know, but we do it.  We do it because our Mama’s told us we should.

I was trying a new, unfamiliar doctor.  I was still getting reacquainted with the city and trying to figure out who the best doctors were.  You know, in my male dominated engineering field, it’s not that easy to ask around at work for a good gynecologist recommendation.  I am pretty sure I didn’t send out a generic email question on that one.  But anyway, I left work.  I was on I-285 when I heard.   We all know it very well.  There was an explosion at one of the Towers.  I listened as I tried to find the doctor’s office.  Then, I parked and kept listening.  Then, reports came in of the second explosion.  I listened more in my car…in the parking lot.  Then, I finally got out and walked in.

I was disappointed to walk in and not see a television.  Dang it!  I wanted to know what was going on.  I signed my name to check in and sat down.  I was the only person in the waiting room.  Behind the counter, it seemed like a normal day.  Then, I heard a radio in the distance.  Good.  I moved closer to listen.  It seemed like forever I was in the waiting room stretching to hear a word or two.  Towards the end of my wait, I believe I heard the statement that our nation could be under attack.  My heart was racing.  Then, they called my name to come back.  What the?

I walked in the room.  The nurse wasn’t saying anything.  Am I just over reacting here?  What the hell is going on people?  I couldn’t stand it!  They gave me the paper gown.  I hate this part.  I hate those dang paper gowns.  I managed to undress and put it on.  Then, I sat there on the edge of the table with my bare feet dangling.  There was a window in the room.  The blinds were closed, but not entirely.  I do remember sunlight coming in.  I sat there in that isolated room and waited and wondered what was happening.  I became scared.  I started looking for places in the room that I could hide.  Yep, if I hear a bomb, I might just climb down and run in the little closet room that I changed in.  Is that best?  But no, there’s a window in here.  Maybe I should be in the hall way?  No, wait a minute, I’m in a paper gown and this ain’t no freaking tornado!  Geez, will the damn doctor just come on and get this over with!  She finally did and nothing much was said and I got dressed.  Never put my clothes on quicker.

I went to check out.  Ok, now the radio is loud.  She asks for my co-pay.  She’s been crying for sure.  She couldn’t speak to me much.  I gave her what I needed and ran to my car and turned on the radio.  I sat there in shock and disbelief as I heard reports come in.  My love was out of town in training.  I couldn’t get him on the phone.

Now what?  Do I go back to work?  What do I do?  Somehow, I put the car in drive and started heading back to Lockheed.  I parked and walked all the way back inside in sort of a daze.  I say "all the way" because it takes forever to get inside from a Lockheed parking lot.  I wondered if my co-workers knew what was happening.  I remember walking down the hallway towards my cubicle.  I remember seeing the guys standing in the hall way.  Someone had pulled out a 1970’s looking television on a cart.  They were just standing there watching.  It was silent except for the television.  I couldn’t stop and watch.  I walked past them with tears in my eyes and went to my desk and I put my head down and I sobbed quietly.

Then I started hearing the security announcements.  Lock down.  I must have got back in the gate just before security scrambled.  Then, I realized, what the hell was I thinking coming back to this place?!  Are we a target?!  Should I go back home?  Can I go home?  I’m alone.  My love’s out of town!  What am I going to do?  The rest of the day is pretty much a blur.  I think there were meetings.  I was physically there, at work but, mentally shocked and disoriented and confused.

I finally talked to my love.  He’s ok.  It was good to hear his voice.  He reassured me and helped me relax.

Night came.  I’m back at home…our small condo on Lenox Road.  I watched.  I never slept.  I watched all night.  I thought of Mama a lot and was sort of glad she missed this.  I worried my love would be whisked away from me for a long time.  I worried something else would happen.  I thought that if I died that night, I wanted everyone to know how much they meant to me.  So, I called them all one by one.  At the time, I didn’t care if they thought I was crazy.  (And if you didn’t hear from me, believe me, it was because I couldn’t reach you.)

Every sound from Marta and the passing cars startled me.  I know I prayed a lot.  I’m sure I talked to the Lord more than I ever had.  To protect my family and friends.  To be with those in New York.  I did all that.  And I’m one of those who doesn’t talk to the Lord as much as I should.

Fast Forward.  On this anniversary, I was not alone. Yes, on this day, September 11, 2010, I was on St. Simons Island with my childhood girlfriends.  We've been meeting once a year for a long time now.  And on this morning, I was the first to wake.  I sat on the sofa.  I had forgotten what day it was.  I forgot until I turned the TV on.  And for some reason, I sat there for two hours and watched the replay of what happened, exactly as it happened.  I cried all over again.  I wanted to scream to those people to go faster to get out.  I wanted to scream at the firemen and policemen to not go in.

The girls were still asleep.  Yeah, that’s right.  9:00 now.  I thought to myself, I have got to get out of here.  So, I slipped my tennis shoes on and went for a run.  I walked outside and took a deep breath which would have been great, but there’s this crazy, stinky bush just outside of this condo.  I think someone should destroy it, seriously.  Even so, it felt good to get the F out of there.  It was too much.

I realize it is good to have these days of remembrance; we should never forget.  But, life goes on and it has, and there was fun to be had and I needed to make the most of it.

As I ran, I turned my attention to the moment.  I thought more about how my girls from back home and I are not the same.  I don’t teach Sunday school.  I’m not on any School committee.  I like a glass of wine when I get home from work.  I curse at times.  I don’t do facebook.  I could go on and on.  Goodness, I am a great person though…I think so anyway.

But… I know that if I needed them, they would be at my side in a second.  I know that they care for me.  I’m pretty sure I called them all nine years ago on that September evening.  I couldn’t not.  I know that I would call them tomorrow if anything like this happened again…God forbid.

I ran it out, came back and continued to be myself.  And Saturday night we had a pretty fun dinner and saw a fantastic movie.  I laughed my head off.  I needed that.

Time for the Weekend credits.  No warning needed.  It was definitely not a “Hangover” weekend.  These are pretty G rated.  And that’s Ok.  As I’ve said before, they know the kid in me and bring it out at times. 

Where are you guys?  Who the hell knows?

There she is, My Diana.



Impressive there my traveling buddy, my partner in crime.  Hot.

Ice cream or rum?  Hmmmmm.  


Sorry, doesn't matter if we are 16 or 36, this is still funny.


Never grow up.

And to my babies.  I am afraid that when you grow older and ask me where I was on September 11, 2001, I will have to tell you this story.  Yes, I was at some strange gynecologist office, in a paper gown, barefoot, looking for cover.  Sorry, but that’s the truth.  We probably will not gather around a television and relive this every year.  I can promise you that you will know about the wonderful men and women we lost that day.  If you are sad when you learn about it, I’ll follow with some silly childhood story that I shared with these girls on weekends like these, or you can just picture my stupid self in that white paper gown.  Whatever it takes my angels.

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