Wednesday, September 11, 2013


     I am not proud of the next sentence.  Frankly, living overseas - I forget sometimes what this day is... 

     I am having my first "dinner party" on Friday and Dear Daughter is having her first sleepover of the school year so I am a bit preoccupied.  Dear Husband commented last night that perhaps I am living in my own little world...and perhaps he is right.  I am caught in limbo...  When we left the States, I knew my purpose and was completely happy with getting everyone (all three of us) acclimated to a new life.  I didn't worry about finding a job.  I didn't worry about finding friends, although that came pretty easily.  I lived within the world of our family for eight months and was ecstatic.  I cooked; I gardened; I played my flute; I walked in the fields.  Then I started writing; then I started working and it was was more than fine.  So, while I really love being in Belgium and I really feel comfortable with the move - I wasn't prepared for completely starting over again.  This is different because I am in a different place.  As a result, I think I am in a bit of my own world.

     Driving down the road this morning on my way to France to shop for the dinner party (isn't that nice to say - but it is actually cheaper to shop in France), I was listening to the Armed Forces Network radio station.  This is something that I rarely do - opting to listen to the local channels in hopes that I will progress in the language.   But this morning, I thought it might be interesting to hear the news, etc.  As I listened to the DJ, I realized that today was 9-11 (no, I hadn't realized the date) and he had an incredible memorial piece - he talked to NATO folks about their experiences that day.  He spoke to a guy from Italy, who was at university at the time and he spoke to a woman from the UK and it was interesting to hear their experiences on that day.  They were not even there...but this one event changed them and perhaps everyone.

     Driving down the road with the rain pouring down and tears beginning to stream through my eyes, I quickly recovered and began to concentrate on the road and the task at hand.  Back at home, I worked out, started laundry, ate lunch, and completed my daily French lessons.  I started up my VPN and tuned into my favorite country music station in DC just as I began to make the trial-run appetizers for the dinner party.  (Yes, I made appetizers for the family to evaluate.)  It hit me again...I was listening to a channel in DC on 9-11 - what did I expect to hear?  Naturally, lots of remembrances - and it got to me.

     I was pregnant with Dear Daughter - only two weeks away from my due date.  I worked in Arlington in a high rise building that overlooked the Potomac and within view of the Pentagon.  Back in those days, I used to get to work before 7am.  I had an interior office that "overlooked" our Trading Desk, which I loved as it was the hub of activity.  Our CEO and COO were not in the office that day - traveling to parts unknown, which was a regular part of their jobs.  I vaguely remember one of our Traders yelling out about a plane hitting a building in NY.  We all came out from our cubes and offices and went over to the television.   At first, it seemed like a horrible tragedy that a plane would have a mechanical issue and crash.  Then, we remembered that we had organizations that we worked with in the building and perhaps at that point, one of our traders tried to call one of the brokerage firms, I don't remember.  But, we all seemed to disperse and just thought that it was a tragic event.  As the news continued to unfold, we slowly began to divorce ourselves from the work we were doing and congregated back at the trading area.  There we saw the second plane...then the one closer to home.

   We heard that another plane hit the Pentagon.  We ran to one side our building and we could see the smoke generating from the area (we were that close).  Not much longer after that, one of Partners told me to tell everyone to evacuate and go home.  We quickly left the building only to be met with massive traffic jams.  I could not get in touch with Dear Husband who was working at the National Guard Headquarters.  Surprisingly, however, I was able to get in touch with my father, who lived out of town.  He told me to go home and stay there.  He told me again...go home and stay there.  He told me a third time...go home and stay there.  I took a detour and drove to the National Guard Headquarters - of course, only to find the gates shut and locked.  (Later, he explained that he had heard that there was another plane in the air - the one that crashed in Pennsylvania and he wanted me off the streets.)

     I drove home to our townhouse in Alexandria and positioned myself in our basement TV room and prayed over and over again, "Please let this child stay in my belly", "Do not come out, dear girl".  Much later that day, Dear Husband called and he was ok.  He had been scheduled to be at the Pentagon that day but had not gone.  I did not see him for another 24 hours as he was locked down in some sort of operations center.

     Dear Daughter was born 13 days later.  I went back to work three months later and developed "Shelter in Place" plans, stocked emergency food supplies and had company-wide drills.  Every year, the maintenance guys would lower a huge American flag from our balcony that overlooked the Potomac.  We all went on with our lives and remembered the event at different times...when a container didn't make it through security, or when we would hear about some idiot on the news or being delayed at security --- or when we saw the flags draped all over DC or we would  hear the annual presidential 9-11 speech.

     I have no real story...I have no family nor friends that died that day.  My beautiful daughter was born; my wonderful husband continued...but perhaps we should all remember what so many had taken away that day.  How difficult can our lives be - when so many of us only went through seeing it on the news or reading about it in the newspapers.  I watch it all again tonight via the television and think that perhaps even writing about it is not paying enough reverence.  

     Thank God.  Do a dance in the kitchen.  Kiss your kids when they come home.  Tell your "sig" other that you love him/her.  Remember where you were that day; pay remembrance to those that lost that day.  Go out and make a difference - (help yourself or help others) - get out of your own little world!

1 comment:

  1. Never really heard your side of the story. It is really touching to read. I remember where I was when it all happened and when I was in New York and visited the chapel close to the towers I was really moved. Moved by everything that happened, moved by so many who lost their lives, moved by so many who lost familymembers and friends and moved by so many who stood up to help.
    Thanks for this inspring story. Hilde