Traveling Dog Lady: Remembering 9/11

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

I may be mistaken, but I am pretty sure this is the first time since "the" 9/11 that the anniversary has been on a Tuesday.   Eleven years ago today, it was a Tuesday morning, warmer than today, but similar weather-wise other than the temperature.  I remember there was hardly a cloud in the blue, blue sky as I set out on my daily dog walk with Hobie, then just under two years of age.
We had said goodbye to the elderly Timba in May of 2001, on Memorial Day, when she died not-so-peacefully under the Christmas tree in our back yard.  After that, we named our yard Timba Memorial Park, in her honor.  So, this was, and would be, my only few months alone with Hobie -- from May 2001 to November 2001 when we adopted Hector and ten years of fun ensued.

Hector, as I've repeated ad nauseum, was born on September 4, 2001, just a week before 9/11.  On that awful day, I knew there was a litter of puppies and one would belong to us, but I hadn't seen them yet, and wouldn't know which one was ours until several days after 9/11.

That beautiful Tuesday was the same as any other day for me and Hobie.  Gil slept in, and Hobie and I went for our 2-mile walk.  I had been on Weight Watchers for a while and had lost around 25 pounds.  I felt good.  I loved walking with my dog, all over town.  I was in great shape and felt fantastic most of the time.  I had some chronic aches and pains (mostly migraines), but didn't have full-out fibromyalgia yet.  When we got back from our walk, I made coffee and headed up to my desk in my office room to do my email and watch "Live With Regis and Kelly" -- having been a huge fan of Kelly Ripa since her days on "All My Children".

When I turned on the TV, at 8:45, a plane had just hit one of the World Trade Center towers, and it wasn't yet clear that it was deliberate.  In fact, at first glance, I thought it was a small, single engine plane that had gone off-course and hit the building.  Looking back, I now think, well that was dumb, dummy!  Who the heck flies a small plane in the middle of downtown Manhattan?  But I guess that's what denial does to you.

After watching for a few minutes, I realized this was something much more. I immediately called Michael at our office at the student travel company.  "Turn on the TV!" I said, "It looks like a plane hit the World Trade Center."  Michael replied, somberly, "Terrorists."

I went downstairs and turned on the big TV in the living room.  That woke up Gil, asleep next door in our bedroom.  He came out, groggily rubbing his eyes, "What's going on?"  I pointed at the TV, "I don't know.  A plane hit the World Trade Center."  I still didn't want to believe what Michael said, but I remember the look on Gil's face; he knew it was bad, too.

We rushed in to the office, tearing ourselves away from the TV at home, to which we were glued.  The entire day was spent at work, gathered around the various televisions we have in the building, a lot of us crying, way too much speculation (we only heard details as they unfolded).

I remember, it was a Tuesday.  We had recently made the important decision to open up a west coast office for the travel company, and had brought six young men and women to Massachusetts for training.  They arrived here on September 8th and 9th, the weekend before 9/11.  Their first day of training was Monday, September 10th.  By Tuesday afternoon, September 11th, it was clear  that this event had changed the travel industry, at least temporarily, enough for us to abandon the idea of staffing a full office in California.  However, nobody would be flying home for many days.  We had a traveling group stranded in France because planes were grounded.

While I did not personally know anyone who died on 9/11 (the closest person would be a man who lived in our small town whom I knew of but did not know personally) this day impacted the travel industry in ways which we are still feeling today.  Parents stopped putting their kids on airplanes, at first because of the acts of 9/11 itself, then because of the wars, then, the economy.  I refer back to this day often, hearing myself begin sentences with "Since 9/11...."   Yes, I will never forget, for my own selfish business reasons, but mainly  for the thousands of people who died such horrible deaths that day, and the thousands of others who rescued, cleaned up, and put back to together our fine neighboring city of New York.  I still cry every time I think about them and what they had to go through.  The rescuers and responders are now, if still alive, suffering from health problems.  We have not nearly stopped seeing the long-term effects of this event that is marred into our brains.

I met our puppy, Hector, on Friday, the 14th of September.  My co-worker and I were so upset that week and we needed to get out of the doom and gloom of the office for a while.  We went to see the puppies.  There were only a couple left who were not already spoken for.  I chose Hector because of his beautiful markings.  I had wanted a female, having heard that to have two male dogs together was a no-no.  It wasn't true.  I spent the best 10 years of my life with Hector.  I associate 9/11 with my dog.  He was not only born right before 9/11, he also died, ten years later right before 9/11.  His life was sort of book-ended by the terrible day, and it's 10-year anniversary.

Here we are, a year later, and it is hard to believe 11 years has passed.  Hobie is still going strong.  We now have two more dogs.  The travel industry has changed, but we are slowly seeing small improvements and we're going strong, too.

This is just a regular American, remembering 9/11.  We will never, ever forget.

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