On September 11th 2001 I was driving up I-95 heading to Logan Airport in Boston. Traffic was a mess. Traffic in the Northeast is always a mess. So I opted for a Grateful Dead bootleg instead of listening to the radio.
I already knew about the traffic. I was in the middle of it!
I parked my car and checked into my flight. I was told it was delayed. With further inquiry, I got the agent to explain there was an incident in New York. A phone call from a colleague told me what I never expected; our country was under attack.
Before that morning I thought I had a really good life. I was pursuing one version of the American dream. Yet that day something in the way I viewed the world changed.
Call it a touch of paranoia. Call it a slap of reality. At that time the average United States citizen really didn’t worry about domestic terrorist attacks or other such happenings. Those things took place in the European and Middle Eastern countries. That was why they had soldiers in their airports. In the United States we didn’t worry about any of that; here we were safe. I often wondered how people live with fear and after 9-11, I found out.
I left Logan in a mental fog. Hit the Mass Pike and headed for the office. I had to reschedule the trip. My version of the American dream had business first, right? I worked at a major newspaper. Reality would hit fast.
My boss simply said, “Go home. Hug your family.”
It wasn’t long after I started to appreciate my life more than my job. A bedtime story with my kindergartener was better than a night in skybox. Dinner with my husband was far more superior to hanging out with movie stars. Pursuing my passion was finer than indulging a case of the material wants. I wondered why my career sucked up so much of my time and mental space.
9-11 kicked me off the hamster wheel.
As a nation, we now have a before and after 9-11-01 definition of normal. The before version of me was very driven and I can admit, not always the nicest person.
The after version still has goals, yet appreciates simplicities such as a slower pace, jazz in the woods, and staring at the moon. I like to think that I’m a bit nicer at least when I’m not driving. I still have issues with the traffic on I-95 that even Jerry Garcia live cannot solve.
This weekend my little town has a memorial out. A flag representing the country of every person who was murdered that day graces our town green. As beautiful and patriotic as this sight is, like with every tragedy, one wishes that this display wasn’t necessary. That the cataclysm never took place.