Ten years ago I was not a mother or a knitter.
Ten years ago I was working in a position I had no intention of keeping. It was just something to bide away the time and make some pocket money while I waited for my husband to study and take the bar exam. Andrew had graduated from law school a few months earlier, and we moved back from Colorado to Delaware in early June. We were living with his parents while we waited for the results, and spent our time imagining where we might end up moving once some lucky law firm snapped him up. I had plans to go back to teaching, but had no intention of taking the Delaware teaching certification exams if this was not the state we would be staying in.
Then 9/11 happened.
It’s true what people say – it was an absolutely beautiful day. The East Coast humidity that had me cowering in air-conditioning all summer had finally let up, the sky was blue, and I was looking forward to being able to spend time outside when I got home later. The first clue I had that anything had happened was that Sue, a woman in my office who had come into the office late because her daughter had a dentist appointment, said her car radio had breaking news that a plane had hit a skyscraper in New York City. She asked me if I had heard anything – I looked on the usual news websites, and didn’t see anything. That quickly changed.
Pretty soon all the news sites were clogged – you couldn’t get on CNN or Fox News or MSNBC to save your life. I started directing people to the Canadian news website for CTV news – I guess since Canada is less populous the website wasn’t bombarded like the American news sites. Everything stopped at work. There were security guards placed at all doors, and the people in my hall were crowded into one of the director’s offices, listening to the fancy old-time radio that he usually listened to Phillies’ games on. Andrew called me to ask me if I had heard. He begged me to go home. I told him we weren’t told to do that yet – but once schools started calling parents and telling them to come get their kids, my company sent everyone home. It was eleven o’clock in the morning.
My office was very close to home – on a normal day it would take five to ten minutes to drive home. In that short time, I saw three car accidents on the main road. The only thing I could think of was that people were so consumed with what was on the radio – and virtually the same thing was on whatever radio station you listened to – that they didn’t notice the other cars around them. I arrived home, and spent the rest of my day sitting in front of the television, flicking back and forth through all the news channels. Andrew came home and watched with me for a little bit, but then he couldn’t take it anymore. He still can’t.
The days that followed were strange. It’s odd that 9/11 is so crystal clear and absolutely fixed in my memory but the days after are cloudy. I remember stomach-aching sadness. I remember worry because I was so far away from my family and there were so many fears and theories about what had happened and what possibly could still happen. Andrew’s parents’ house is on a Philadelphia International Airport flight path, and on a normal day, you see planes go by every 5 – 10 minutes and the engine noise is near constant – but in those days afterward it was eerie in its absence.
About two weeks after 9/11, I started to take knitting lessons at Michaels’. I already knew how to crochet, but I still felt the need to do something else to calm down. About a month after 9/11, Andrew and I decided to take a weekend away – we spent the weekend down at Dewey Beach in Southern Delaware:
Willow was conceived that weekend. We have long maintained that we were neither trying nor terribly avoiding getting pregnant – but that Willow had willed herself into being.
People wonder how you are affected by the events of 9/11. You know the game ‘Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon’? The idea is that you take any actor or actress, and within seven degrees of connection, you can get back to Kevin Bacon. It’s something like that. Everyone seems to know someone who knows someone or is related to someone who was affected – especially here on the East Coast. I was listening to the radio the other day, and someone said that we on the East Coast are so much more emotionally tied to 9/11 - here in Philadelphia and Wilmington we are practically equidistant between New York and Washington, D.C., and I wholeheartedly agree with that emotional punch. Personally, the events of 9/11 delayed many things for Andrew and me; we ended up living with Andrew's parents for nearly three years (to my eternal gratitude). Jobs were hard to come by - law firms that had expressed interest in Andrew prior to 9/11 were suddenly freezing all hiring. But things got better. We got stronger.
Ten years later I am a mother to two and a knitter. I am happily working at the same place (although I have moved quite a few rungs up the career ladder), and the closest I come to teaching anymore is training my co-workers on new systems. We live less than two miles from my husband’s parents and are firmly in place in Delaware.