Away form home
On September 11th I was in Ecuador. I had waited to go back to Quito
for a long time. The last time I was there was six years ago when
my grandfather died. After his death I could nott go back. Ecuador
without my grandfather was not the same. But finally last year, in
September, I decided to go back, it was time to heal the old wounds.
After two weeks
of vacation, visits to my family and a beautiful trip to the Galapagos
Islands, it was time to come back to NY. I was schedule to land at
La Guardia Airport on September 12th at 8:00 am.
On my last day
in Quito I had an appointment with my dentist. I had purposely postpone
this to the end. I am generally terrified of dentists. I have told
myself many times that this is a childish and unacceptable fear. But
I am still terrified of them. That morning I was already sweating
sweating out of nervousness when I arrived at his office at 9:00am.
But as I entered I noticed that something unusual was happening. Dr.
Padilla an his assistants where standing next to the radio, anxiously
listening to the news. I though that the national soccer team was
playing. I had only seen that dedicated attention to the radio when
"The Nacional" plays in town. But this was serious. One
of the assistants had her eyes full of tears. Dr. Padill asked me
if I had heard the news that morning. I hadn't, I was too worried
about the tooth pain that I was going to experience that morning.
He told me that
an airplane had crushed into the twin towers. I could nott believe
it! My heart started pounding faster as I heard the events on the
radio. They announced the crash of the second plane and the collapse
of the first tower. I though that this was a nightmare. This had to
be a bad dream because only in dreams big fears come together. This
could not happen. Eventually I understood that it was real. NY was
I left the dentist office and went to look for a telephone to call
New York. I tried calling several times, dialing the telephone number
of everyone I remembered. But I couldn't get thorough. I understood
later that telephone lines where dead that day as a consequence of
the buildings collapse.
I do not remember
exactly what I did later, or how I ended up at the American embassy.
I only remember the confused crowd. The worried faces, the generalized
fear, and this hunting thoughts of everyone I know being killed.
Trying to get
more information I went to the office of American Airlines. But they
knew as much as I did. The office eventually filled up with Americans
that wanted answers and wanted to come back home. I met Janet one
more time. The New Yorker that really annoyed me at the Galapagos
islands. I hated when she got too close to a baby sea lion to get
a picture. The tour guide had warned the group repeatedly to stay
away from the baby sea lions. He mentioned that they are harmless
and very curious. They are like a big puppy really and they try to
get close to people to play and to smell. But at a certain age they
are also helpless and could die from starvation if their mother abandons
them. The mother sea lion will abandon the puppy if she can not identify
its smell. If he accidentally acquires human smell from getting to
close to a tourist or from a tourist getting too close to him. After
all this explanation, Janet was still taking pictures on the nose
of the bay sea lion. She did not seem to understand that islands where
not the central park zoo.
I hated her her
shopper window shopping attitude and of course, being a New Yorker
my self I told her so!. but on September 11th when I met her at the
airline office I could only Hugh her. We were both from NY. This time
we had something in common. The twin towers where ours and someone
had bomb them.
That night I went back to my sisters place and stayed listening
to the news. Watching CNN, and the twin towers collapse before my
eyes over and over again. I also kept dialing the numbers of everyone
I could think off but it was in vain. I could nott get through.
Exhausted, I stopped for a few minutes and the phone rang. It was
my boyfriend. He was calling to let me know that he was fine. I felt
and immense relieve and asked him to contact my friends for me. The
next day I went to the American Airlines office just to find out that
the situation had not changed. The airports in the US where still
closed and all flights where canceled. No one new when the situation
was going to change. The office was full of people, of questions,
uncertainty and anxiety.
Four days later
the airports in the United States reopen and I was able to come back.
In the airplane the emotions where mixed. Some people wanted to get
home fast to see their loved ones. Janet had not heard from her nephew
that used to work at the WTC. a couple of people where afraid. The
hijacked airplanes where from American Airlines. However, the trip
was uneventful. The Miami airport the lines of people where extremely
long but people cooperated with the new security measures and waited
When I arrived
in New York I couldn't help myself and I started crying. In all those
days of confusion I had not think about all the people that I met
at the world trade center and that I would not see any more. The next
few days their names hunted me. Charlie, the Manager at my first restaurant
job job 10 years ago. Mark, the actor that had being waiting tables
for the last five years. Mary the Mexican woman that crossed the border
illegally. Susan the jeweler designer that cheated on her husband.
Adam, the waiter with the brightest smile that I had seen. Jonathan
and his bad jokes, Mario and his dirty looks. John, the crazy fire
man that I dated once. I had stopped seen all these people many years
ago. When I left that job Idid not like many of them. But that did
not matter now.
The World Trade
Center is part of my personal story. The twin towers where part of
my land landscape and they live in my memory. None of my ex co-workers
where hurt that day. They all managed to come out of the second tower
on time. But all the faces that I remember without a name were buried
under dust of all this hatred. They were as innocent as I am. Before
September 11th I never though about them. Now they live constantly
in my memory. I had created a memorial site in my heart for them and
in the wall I had sign all of their names. I will always remember
that they were killed on September 11th.