Its not even 6 o’clock in the morning. Who the hell is calling me?
That’s the first thought I have when my cell phone won’t stop ringing. Its early autumn and I’m at one of several in a string of trade shows on my 3rd quarter schedule. I’m 29 years old and I live out of a suitcase. I’m not even sure what city I’m in, what brand of hotel I slept in that night, or if I’m alone or not.
But the damned phone won’t stop ringing so I roll over and locate it. It’s my mother and she’s yelling at me about something. I can’t understand her. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that last drink at the bar the night before because my head is throbbing.
She’s mumbling something about a plane. And not having a copy of my latest itinerary. I’m getting ready to hang up on her because I’m convinced this is part of some weird jet lag induced dream. And then I hear this part clearly…
Turn on the television. An airplane just flew into a building in New York City.
Okay, I say, hanging up. I switch on the television to see black smoke billowing out of one of the World Trade Center towers. I recognize them as I had just visited them a couple months before on a side weekend from my regular work travels.
And then seconds later, I see the second plane coming. And impact.
I run to the bathroom and barely make it before I throw up, bile burning the back of my throat.
Shaking I stand up and walk back in the bedroom, trying to remember where I am.
It’s a Tuesday.
I’m in San Diego.
I’m supposed to be boarding a plane in a few hours to head home to Texas.
But I’m not going anywhere.
I strip off my clothes and turn on the shower and sit on the floor and cry.
I feel violated. Air world is my domain. And it’s being attacked. On my native soil.
I pull myself together and go through the grown up business of locating the members of my team, who are in a half-dozen different cities and figuring out the logistics of tearing down the trade show exhibit (at the show that has been abruptly cancelled).
In that time, two more planes crash. The world of aviation grinds to a halt.
And I return to the hotel, curl up under the covers, and refuse to sleep – the amber glow of CNN serving as a nightlight to keep the boogieman at bay.
My snow globe world of airplanes and travel has been smashed to pieces.