August 6, 2009

September 11th

Here I was in Germany, just arrived at my Mom's house.

Heard that everyone I knew was fine. Turned toward the TV and saw the awful truth.
Heartbreaking. Anyone who reads this post is old enough to remember that day, and I will not drag up your emotions any more.

The next day - I couldn't believe I could sleep - I tried to find a flight home. Nothing. Okay, back to my mother's house again. Phone calls, checking, then finally hearing, well maybe tomorrow... So my brother drove me again, with the huge suitcase, another case, and in the airport I sat. And waited. And checked counters. Always with my luggage. No, no luck that day. So I took the train back home again. Finally on Sunday, when I got to the airport, I was accepted as a stand-by to fly to JFK Airport in NYC. I hugged my brother again, thanked him again, and made it through the two security check points to the flights to the States. This was maybe 10 AM in the morning.
And I waited. And I saw others take off - to Denver, to the West Coast, to Dallas, to Houston, to Chicago....
And then it occurred to me to think about maybe going somewhere else other than being stuck as a stand-by on the last flight out of the day. So up to the counter I went 'Is there another flight to the East Coast today?'
'yes, there is a flight to Washington, DC and one to Boston'
'is there a seat available on either flight?'
'well, where do you want to go?'
'I don't care, I can get home from either'
'you have to tell me which airport'
'okay, I'll pick Washington, DC'
'yes, there is room on that flight'
'may I have a seat, please?'
'go over to that counter over there.'
Me, going over to that counter.
'I'd like to get on the flight to Washington, DC'
'Do you have a ticket?'
'No, I have one for Newark, and I'm on stand-by for JFK, but I'm afraid I won't be able to go home today, and I'm good with getting to Washington, DC'
'Well, you can't get on that flight!'
'Why not, I was told there are free seats'
'That's true, but your luggage is booked to JFK and you have to go there!'
'I don't care about my luggage, keep it! It's only dirty laundry and chocolate!'
(huffy expression, typing away)
Me breathing fast.
'so, can I get on that flight?'
ticket agent hands me the paper: 'here is your ticket'
I couldn't believe it. Asked:
Am I on that flight?
Then the question, which I should have asked:
'When is that flight leaving?'
Answer: 'in about 20 minutes'

I was elated, excited, relieved, and still felt like I was in a movie, the circumstances just seemed so unreal.
I had time enough to call my mother and tell her I was on the way to Washington, DC, please call the girls, let Erika know I'm coming to Wash. (she lived in that area at the time), good bye, I love you...

I sat by myself on the flight. Next to the window. And thought. Long flight. We finally approached America, Canada first. Then the flight down the coast, Newport, RI, Shelter Island, NY - do you remember the weather that fall? Clear, not a cloud in the sky for weeks on end. It didn't rain for ages. Well, my flight home was on the 16. of September, still at the beginning of the clear weather. I could see Long Island, and knew when the city was coming closer. Yes, we were 30,000 feet up, but I recognized it all, and got more tight inside the closer we came. Was it real? Had I just imagined it?
You could clearly see the smoke coming from Ground Zero.
And I got to see it not only once, no, because of increased air traffic with everyone coming home finally, we had to circle over NYC 3 times. Three times we had to fly over New York and that awful scene making it so very real.
And behind my really minor and benign story are the people burning, the people jumping, the people in the planes.
I was relieved a bit when we continued on to DC.

The first thing I had to do after getting off the plane was claim my luggage. Not that that was important to me, I was advised in Frankfurt to do that first hand, to make their life easier. Okay, fine.

Then finally I could step outside and be with the rest of the US. My wonderful son-in-law Jim was waiting for me. How happy I was to see him! Erika had to work, but was waiting at their home by the time we got there.
What a wonderful reunion! I loved seeing those guys and being with them!

They had already made plans for me to get home.
They drove me halfway up to the NJ Turnpike, where Nicole was going to take over and bring me home. We even had time for a dinner at a Crackerbarrel, precious family time together, which we all needed.

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