04:17pm, Wednesday 11 Sep 2002
Song of the Day: Seaweed - Go Your Own Way (Clerks Soundtrack)
With all the buzz surrounding the anniversary of Sept 11, I am finding myself being asked the inevitable: "so where were YOU on Sept 11?"
Before I tell you where I was, I need explain how Sept 11 affects me. Sept 11 marks not only the day the world as we know it exploded with change, but it also marks the day *my* world, my own private nobody-can-touch-me world fell apart as well.
About 3 years ago, I had this dream that I desperately wanted to travel to Europe, and the month of September 2001 was the culmination of that dream. On September 11, I was on a boat in the middle of Lake Como in Northern Italy. It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies, sunshine, a fresh wind out on the lake etc. I was sitting on this boat feeling as though my whole life stretched ahead of me, I felt young and free and able to do anything. Life wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt as though it would do.
My sister sent the SMS sometime that afternoon, I couldn't honestly remember when exactly. She had said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and like every other person in the world, we assumed it was some drunk Cessna pilot. I had a hard time visualising what the Twin Towers even looked like. Within a few hours, it was obvious that this was no minor incident.
Looking for a place to buy a bus ticket back to our hotel, we found this tiny hole-in-the-wall travel agency in Menaggio. They had this tv in the corner, tuned to CNN which was showing the footage from the second plane hitting WTC Tower 2. In the office, everyone was going about their normal business, serving customers and not paying much attention to the tv, which I guess just reinforced the itea that it was all a minor accident.
As luck would have it, the hotel we were staying at was the only hotel on the whole trip that did not have a tv. It wasn't until several days later, when we got to Milan that I realised the full extent of the damage and what it all meant. To be honest, before Sept 11 I've never even heard of Osama Bin Laden, let alone knew how to spell his name.
We tried to get newspapers while we were in Como (and later, Milan) but everywhere we went they had sold out of USA Today. (The only english newspaper, as far as I could tell). One time, when it was Mark's turn to try and find a newspaper, he went into a newsagency and after being told that they had no copies of USA Today left, the woman behind the counter said "I'm sorry for your trouble". I guess she thought Mark was American. When he told me that, sitting on the platform at Milano Centrale, I realised that it didn't matter that we are not American: this attack on their country affected us all.
On the way to Bologna, my sister called to tell me that my mother was very sick, and that I should call her immediately when we got to our hotel. I called my mother, and she told me that she had further tests to be done, not to worry, and that she loved me. It was the most heart wrenching phone conversation I ever had, and with the activity going on outside my hotel room door, I found it hard to concentrate on both horrors at once.
I was scared for my mum, and scared to travel and feeling so very far from home. I have to say that whatever I think of Mark now, whatever he did since that day, I cannot fault him for the way he behaved towards me and the support he showed. He held my hand when I cried on the train to Bologna, he tried to get me McDonalds in a town where there was none, he listened when I blubbered about how much I missed my family and how hard it all was. Truly, he was a good friend.
Shortly after, while the fallout of Sept 11 was happening all around the world, I arrived back home from Europe and landed with a bang in my world. Mum's condition got worse and worse, my sister moved to Melbourne to be with her. Mum's hair fell out, Sarah got pregnant and I broke up with Mark. For something like 8 months, everyone was tense about something tragic in their lives. And of course, every time Sept 11 got a mention in the media, we'd remember Sept 11 as the day we found out Mum might die, and the world fell apart.
Now, a year later, I mark the anniversary of Sept 11 with both respect and joy. Respect for the thousands of people who died in the attacks, and joy that my mother is still here with me, able to enjoy the good life. Our family welcomed two new members: Stuart, my sisters partner, and Cody, their son. As for my own life, I can honestly say I am back where I was a year ago.. not 100% perfect, but in comparison, it will do.
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