Five years ago, I was living in San Diego. I was married to a horrible person and working 50 hours a week as a manager for a furniture/decor store.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was driving my 40 minute commute to the mall I worked at. I had a David Gray CD blaring from my stereo. Traffic was going somewhat faster than normal, but things were strange on the road. Military vehicles were racing down the freeway. I remember coming to a stop on the road and looking around to see people staring at their radios. People were crying. Men and women had their heads buried in their hands and I had been oblivious to it all listening to my CD.
I quickly switched to the radio and was shocked at the reports. Terrorist attacks? San Diego on alert? Other cities bracing themselves for possible attacks?
I kept driving the additional 15 minutes to the mall. I unlocked the store, shut off the alarm and put my stuff down. I turned on the radio we had in the back and I unlocked our safe. As I was counting the cash, the phone rang and I jumped. It was my boss. He asked me if I was OK and I burst into tears. I told him I was fine. He told me to get my stuff, lock up and go home. He said it was a time to be with my family, that he would call me when he knew when we would open up again. I walked around the store for a while longer. I straightened some displays; put some things away in the stockroom. I was in shock...and really, my store was the most comforting place for me back then.
My drive home was purposely slow. I cried for the city I'd never been to, for all those people and their family & friends. I worried for the few family members and friends I had in NY.
When I walked into my house, my ex was cooking. Singing. He had a movie on and he was smiling. He made some comment about how I'd be off work for a couple days and there was a lot to do in the house. He told me to change and come help him in the kitchen. I dropped my stuff on the ground and broke into uncontrollable sobs. He told me to calm down, that I didn't know anyone in NY. I quickly shut off his movie and turned it to the news. I remember telling him to not open his mouth again and I became engulfed in the reports.
I wasn't in New York, Washington or Pennsylvania - I do not know the terror or 9/11 first hand. But I could not take my eyes away from news reports and articles. I wanted to show my support for all those people. I felt connected to them, cried for them, felt a sense of pride for their bravery. I put a flag on my car and I wore my grandfathers Navy jacket as a security blanket. I called old friends and told them I loved them. I went to my parents house more. Life changed that day.
For me, 9/11 was the beginning of me waking up and realizing life was too short to continue on the path I was on. Those days showed me that my ex wasn't just horrible and ugly to me, he was just an evil person altogether. Seeing the reports on families searching for their loved ones, learning about what happened on flight 93...made me see that I'd been wasting the life I'd been given. I needed to prioritize and rekindle relationships with the people who mattered most in my life. I couldn't take the possibility of losing those people and them not knowing how much they meant to me.
This morning, I was afraid to get out of bed and turn on my computer. I was afraid of what new reports might be waiting for me to read. Instead of checking myself, I asked Daniel to look for me. When he told me everything was fine, I actually sighed with relief. A part of me has that feeling everyday; worried for what monstrosities are happening in our world now. I don't know if that feeling will ever go away...I do know I'll always remember this day in September and the days that followed.