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I know my next blog is supposed to be about when Darlene and John rescued me from The Cat House, and brought me to their tiny home in Sparks. I have no valid excuse for taking so long to write it, and will not bore you with the details of my malaise.  After what should have been days but has dragged into weeks, here is what I have so far:

Sparks, Mark Espinoza, Mom-Mom and Phil

Zach and I woke up living in The Cat House in Reno, and went to bed all moved into his nanny Darlene’s house in Sparks.  They had a small one floor home down the street from The Plantation Casino.  The house was separated from Interstate 80 by chain link fence running along the highway, and a small road and tiny yard.  You could hear the cars all day and night.  Just to the right of the highway sat Reno Airport, and the racket from jet engines roaring was deafening.  Just like any noise, after a while you got used to it; but we would have to pause movies, stop conversations, or turn the music or television all the way up when airplanes flew overhead and semis hastened down the freeway.

The house was a small ranch, with a living room, guest room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.  Darlene gave Zach and I the guest room, which was really her son Phil’s room when he came to visit.  There was no bed in there, so I got the floor and Zach, who had slept in the king size bed at The Cat House with me, was back in the playpen.  Darlene’s nineteen year old, Joe, slept in the trailer in the backyard.

From the moment we met, Darlene and I bonded instantly.  She was only nine years older than I, but she had that mother persona that some people are just born with, so of course she was motherly towards me and Zachary.  She hated that anyone would consider her motherly though.  She still wanted to be considered a young, hip biker chick, which she had been, but those days were long behind her.  Now she was a legally blind, tired mother to two maladjusted boys, and struggling to make it through each day, while her husband went gallivanting around town with his friends, male and female alike.

I was going to work on it and hopefully finish this chapter of the travails of Meg this weekend, but I came across something I wrote last year that I wanted to share with you, about what my kids and I experienced on September 11, 2001.  I know that you each have your own stories of that day.  The entire country went through a tragedy akin to losing a loved one, as of course thousands actually did.  For those of us living in the Northeast, the loss was palpable and instant and terrifying.

After the towers went down, there was a period of time when we all truly pulled together as a nation.  They say that is what people remember most about that time.  I remember it, and it was like the rose on the grave, special and beautiful and sad.   I would like to share this little piece about that horrific day with you, and hope that you will comment with your stories.  I think we need to pull together again.

How It Was For Us, 9/11/01

I lived in East Rutherford, right across the River, and could see the World Trade Center clearly.  I worked in “The Twin Towers” on Rt 17 in Rutherford, on the fourth floor for P&O Nedlloyd, a Vessel Owner-Operator.   On September 11, 2001, we were sitting at our desks working very hard, as we did everyday in the shipping industry, and listening to WPLJ on the radio.  The morning DJs were bantering back and forth and making wise-cracks, like they always did.  At 8:48 a.m., they interrupted their usual frivolity to say they received a news bulletin that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center,  They were speculating whether it was a commuter plane or private plane, and why a plane would hit the tower.  They could not see the tower, and at that point, who would have suspected a passenger jet?

The DJs didn’t seem to have much information, but since we could see the towers ourselves, we went outside for an early smoke break, and found ourselves watching a horrific scene.  We had customers and friends in those buildings, and it was overwhelming.  My boss came late while we were outside, and acted as if it was nothing, telling us to come back in.  We were watching huge plumes of smoke rising in the sky and over the city, and she did not seem to understand that this was already an alarming and significant event where surely there must be loss of life.  We went in with her, but we were so shaken, there was no way to work.

We kept the radio tuned to WPLJ, and by the time we had reached our office on the fourth floor, they knew it was a passenger jet, and were discussing what could have happened to cause it to crash into the tower. It was only moments later, at 9:02 a.m. that another jet crashed into the South Tower, and then the DJs knew.  Then we all knew.  This was no accident.  This was terrorism.  In the hearts of most of us that day, this was the beginning of war.  We just knew it; we just didn’t know how right we would be, or how long it would last.

As soon as we recovered enough from the shock of the reality, we went back outside, and would not come back in.  We all just stood there for a very long time, watching the disastrous results of something we did not understand, and crying.  We had no idea who would do this, though many did.  At 10:00 a.m., we watched as the first tower began to fall.  That’s when my boss came out of her shock (which is what it turned out to be) somewhat, and started crying.

A security guard came out of the building and instructed us to go back and in and get our things.  We were being evacuated.  I grabbed my purse quickly, and ran to the stairs as the building management had disabled the elevators.  No one knew how widespread this attack would become, and since we were right across the river from World Trade Center, no one was taking any chances.  As I was heading to the stairs, I passed my co-worker Barbara’s desk.  Stunned, she never left her chair the entire morning, and now would not get up to leave.  I had to coax out of her chair and walk her to the stairs.  She was one tough broad, but she was terrified.

As I walked shaking to my car, I turned and watched the North Tower fall, and the sky filled once again with smoke and debris.  I began to cry even harder, uncontrollably, and I was sure the world was over.

It was so incongruous, the beautiful day, and watching this nightmare.  I had called Zach’s school, to try to get him, but they said they weren’t releasing the children.  When I got home, my landlord was freaking out.  He said we have to get Zach NOW, and he ran to his car, yelled for me to get in, and barely waited for me to shut the door before he tore up the street, along with all the others driving like the world was coming to an end.  We got to the school, and all the parents were there, crying, and demanding their children be released to them, which I did also.  I rushed Zach to my landlord’s car, and my landlord sped away, this time without my even shutting the door first.  Again, we weaved our way through chaos.

I called my step-daughter, Morgan, who was in her first year at Bergen County Community College.  She had no idea what had happened.  I told her, “Come HOME.”  I was separated from her father, but he called me, and we decided to gather all our children at his home.  I went to Sean, my other stepchild’s high school, and picked him up.  He was mad.  He did not understand, and certainly did not want to spend this time with us.  There was yelling, from both of us.  My daughter called to tell me that people kept hitting her car with theirs as she was driving, and she didn’t know what to do.  I told her, “Don’t Stop!  Just keep driving.”  Morgan made it home, and Jim, Morgan, Sean, Zach and I holed up in Jim’s apartment until the next morning, much to Sean’s chagrin and my relief.

The panic in the streets made it feel certain the end was near.  From the standpoint of our communities right across the river, this was a war headed straight for us.  My landlord packed up his family, and headed to Pennsylvania country.  This turned out to be ironic, as the brave heroes of Flight 93 caused it to crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which prevented it from reaching its intended target, thought to be the United States Capitol Building or The White House.

It was the worst day of our lives.  The death toll kept rising, and our hearts kept sinking.  In my area, we never felt safe.  It was like living on the California Coast after Pearl Harbor.  You were sure you were next.  All the stories of the victims became personal, and though we were scared for ourselves and our children, we were devastatingly heartbroken by the loss of life, the loss of thousands of lives of people who were vital members of their families and societies only moments and hours before. We lost so many members of our communities in Bergen County. So many of our children’s friends lost a parent. It was heart-wrenching.

I will never forget as long as I am alive; how could I?  Not one of us who lived through that day will ever forget, will we?   Each year, raise a toast to those whose lives were lost, to those valiant heroes who worked and fought to save others, many losing their own lives in the process, and to those who miraculously survived.  Each year, raise a toast to New Yorkers, the Tri-State, Northeasterners, all Americans who didn’t know how they would live through it, but they did.  We did.

*Please feel free to share your stories in comments.  I look forward to reading them.  Next Week: I promise to continue the Saga!

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Comments on: "We Interrupt This Story For 9/11" (1)

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