When I was doing a lot of online dating, I met a woman from Florida. Not sure what prompted her to click on my picture, but we started emailing, then spoke on the phone, eventually, she flew up to meet me (that must have been one hell of a profile picture).
It was Labor Day weekend and I went to Newark Airport to pick her up. I knew her flight and arrival time, but for some reason, all the Arrival/Departure screens were not working. Worried, I only knew her from some photographs, that I wouldn’t find her in the crowd. Fortunately, a blond woman noticed me and waved; she looked much better than her photograph.
As we walked to my car, I told her how I was afraid I wouldn’t find her.
“Well, you’re lucky,” she said, “because I told everyone your name and number and where you lived. If something ever happened to me, they were coming after you. No one would believe that you couldn’t find me.”
That Labor Day we went into New York City, not thinking that most places were closed for the holiday. Before that day, I only had been to the World Trade Center once. We went there, it was empty. We roamed through the lobby, rode some escalators, and felt like kids being in a place we shouldn’t have been.
Outside, vendors sold t-shirts, and I bought one for each of my kids.
She flew back later that week but returned on the weekend. She scheduled a few days of training in Washington D.C for the following week.
On Saturday, we repeated the airport pick up, and that Tuesday, she headed to Washington D.C. and I headed to work.
It was September 11th, 2001.
Needless to say, she never got anywhere near Washington that day, turned around and headed back to my house.
It took several days before she was able to get a flight back to Florida, so she stayed with me. One day, I called her and jokingly asked, “What are you doing? Are you cleaning my house?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact,” she replied, “I am.”
Later that week, a memorial was held at a local baseball stadium. When an airplane flew overhead during the ceremony, the first one in days, everyone in the stadium looked up.
It took a while, but she finally was able to book a flight home. I drove her to the airport; from the New Jersey Turnpike, you could still see the twin tails of smoke rising from the ground.
Once in the airport, what amazed me was how quiet it was. There were thousands of people, some had been stuck there for days, sleeping on cots, whole families, and it was eerily quiet.
The line at the ticket counter snaked throughout the airport, but no one complained or seemed rushed. One by one they stepped up, completed their transaction, and moved on.
Soldiers, in full gear and rifles, paced throughout the crowd, a sight I never expected to see in this country.
After she boarded her flight, and it safely took off, I talked to a young man with his dog. He had a TV show (I don’t remember the name or what station it was aired on) where the two of them traveled the country. I told him I had an extra bedroom if he wanted to get out of the airport for a while. He thanked me but declined.
That’s all there is to the story. No funny tagline on this one. Just thought I’d share a memory of those days.
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