I will always remember where I was on 9.11.01. I think we all will.
Dave and I were on the 3rd day of our honeymoon. Our oasis after the chaos of our wedding. It was our time to enjoy each other and not have to think about anything.
We woke up on Tuesday morning and went downstairs to breakfast in our hotel. As we walked by the lobby, we noticed there were quite a few people gathered in the lobby watching TV. Seemed a little odd so we poked our heads around the corner to see what was on. The TV was tuned to CNN and we saw an image of the WTC with smoke coming out of it. I remember thinking, "Oh, wow, the WTC is on fire. That's sad." I had no idea. We went on to eat breakfast. After breakfast we popped over to nurse's office on the resort to get me some medicine. While in there, she also had a TV on and asked if we were Americans. We replied yes and she said, "They just announced it's terrorists." We thought we must have misunderstood the nice lady with the very thick Jamaican accent. As we walked back to our room, we decided to stop in the lobby and figure out what was really going on. As soon as we sat down, we figured it out. They named off the cities the planes were going to/from. Boston - Wendy had flown in for the wedding from Boston, LA - cousins had flown in from LA, PA - cousins had flown in from Pittsburgh, NY - about 15-20 had flown in from NY/NJ, DC - my oldest childhood friend was in grad school at GW, one of our ushers worked for the Department of Defense, and Manhattan itself - one of my closest friend's brother and sister-in-law lived and worked in Manhattan.
I remember the first thing I said when I realized what was happening. "What day is it?" Dave looked at me and said, "It's Tuesday." I was overwhelmed with the feeling of relief that comes when you realize one of your biggest fears was not just realized. He asked me why and I told him, "The last people who came in for the wedding were flying on Monday." We spent the next several hours sitting in the lobby of our hotel, crying, watching, learning, talking, listening. We spoke to the people around us. Some from NYC many from other areas. I remember speaking to one woman who had left her 7-month-old son with her mother so she and her husband could have a little getaway. How fiercely this woman wanted to hold her child at that moment. I thought I understood then, I REALLY understand now.
I wanted to call home as soon as I heard but we waited. We wanted to at least leave phone lines open for those people who needed to check on loved ones who were in NYC. When I called home that night, I was once again relieved to find out that we didn't personally know anyone who had died.
In the coming days we talked about how we would be stuck. We talked about how worried we were about anyone and everyone who may have come in contact with this tragedy. We talked about how we had to put things aside, at least for a few days, and try to enjoy the trip we took to celebrate our marriage. We were also able to get online at the hotel which felt like a lifeline to home. I sent some emails - to my boss letting her know I might not be back when I had planned. I got on AIM and was able to find out my friend's brother and sister-in-law were ok. I was able to connect with a few other people from home and know that everyone was ok - as much as they could be.
We were lucky, we got home on time and without incident. There were others who were stuck for an extra 2 weeks. And while being stuck in Jamaica may sound wonderful, you're still stuck. And being so out of control is completely frightening and enraging.
In the 5 years since 9.11 many things have happened in my life. Dylan was born. My grandfather died. I've switched jobs, twice. Dave and I spent the last weekend away to celebrate our 5th anniversary. It was wonderful. A chance to reconnect we really needed. But, as with every year, when I think about our anniversary, I think of the anniversary of 9.11 and how the two will forever be connected.