I forget so many things about my life. I forget past memories, I forget to be grateful, I forget to put on deodorant, I forget where I put my car keys, I forget that my kids don’t have the same fully functioning brain as an adult so I forget to be patient.
I totally forgot about being screamed at by men in uniform with really big guns pointed at my feet. And I forgot about how we paid for part of our minivan in 2001.
And then I remembered. Yesterday was the anniversary of 9-11 and I forgot that too until last night. I watched a documentary about what enfolded that day and was mesmerized. I was completely 100% there again on that day 13 years ago. It was like a portal opened to my past and I remembered.
I remember that I was the Office Manager, Human Resources Manager, Executive Assistant and about 12 other things for a small construction company in South Texas. A lot of Texan Men and me. And if you don’t realize how crazy that is you don’t know me and you don’t know Texas. On the day of, when the planes were hitting and everyone was in shock, we were suppose to keep working. We weren’t to stop and drop like we wanted to. It was like working underwater–difficult, unnatural, void of sound, dark, cold. I was asked if I needed to go home because my husband was in the military. Part of me wanted to say yes, the other part felt that one had nothing to do with what was happening on the East Coast. Or did it? I had no idea. What was going to happen? What was happening?
My boss gave me an impossible list of errands to do that day–and when I finished I could go home. My husband was stationed at a military base in Corpus Christi and we had one car at the time. This meant I had to go pick him up when I was done working. I remember walking through a sports store looking for steel tipped work boots for my bosses. What was I doing? Who cared about all these things when it felt like the world was stopping. After 4 hours of this I was finally finished and able to go get my husband. It was 2:35. I remember. I waited for almost 3 hours to get onto the base that day. The line of cars stretched forever. Every single car had to be searched. Bomb dogs. Men with guns. And the screaming.
You see for the search to be effective, I guess, I had to open the trunk, I had to pop the hood, I had to slide the seats forward, I had to operate all the buttons and gizmos on my car in front of the armed guards to make sure I wasn’t hiding anything. Perhaps it was like drinking a cup with possible poison–if I drank it first than it must be ok? Perhaps also suicide bombers weren’t too common yet?However, in the 100 degree Texas heat on asphalt after 3 hours in the wake of the day’s events I became flustered when he started ordering me to do all these things. I couldn’t get the hood to pop. There were men surrounding me and my car, a large bomb dog, and lots of stress. The more I hesitated the more agitated the guard became and that’s when he started screaming at me with his gun pointed at the ground in front of me. And then it wasn’t just the East Coast anymore. The country had changed all the way down to the tip of Texas. We were all on high alert.
The military was grounded. No leave. No foreign travel. This was significant to us because on September 20th, 9 days later, my husband and I were taking our delayed honeymoon to Italy. We were leaving on a military flight out of Dover AFB. Dover became the morgue for the Twin Towers. We never made it to Italy. The money we saved for the trip went as a down payment for our new minivan. I joked later, much much later, that I should have bought an Italian Flag and draped it over the dashboard or something.
My life was indirectly affected as a result of the military changes that took place over the course of the next decade. And we still haven’t made it to Italy yet.
So today, a day after the anniversary, I remember to be grateful for my husband. He works at the Pentagon now. Time shifts quickly. Thirteen years ago he could have been there. He could have been on a plane. He could have been on a business trip in NYC, DC, or PA. He could have been one of the many who gave their lives fighting against this whole terrible mess which keeps manifesting into new names and faces. I watched the documentary last night in horror unable to comprehend all the firemen I saw suiting up to go into the towers–wondering if this was the last they would be seen. So many sacrifices.
Thirteen years and 1 day later I remember a lot more than I realized.