Saturday, September 11, 2004


Three Years Ago Today

On September 9th, 2001, at noon, Jayne and I were married in a lovely ceremony in the outdoor garden of Dolphin's restaurant on Cooper Square. It was a stunningly beautiful day. The weather was perfect. After the ceremony we went inside and had Sunday brunch. I had made four CD's, each about 75 minutes. An eclectic mix of our favorite rock, blues, r&b, jazz, and even a few show tunes, drove our guests to a dancing frenzy. In the early evening many of us met at The Sidewalk for a jam session with The Doughboys, joined by special guests. People remember the occasion as the last fun thing they did before the world as we knew it changed for the foreseeable future, if not forever.

That night, Jayne and I went to the Tribeca Grand hotel and stayed in a suite on the sixth floor, our windows looking at the Twin Towers, the site of our first date. We sipped champagne and toasted our life together and a future of happiness.

The next morning, we went out to breakfast, taking our time, laughing at people who were hurrying to work. We were on vacation. Our honeymoon would start the next day. We thought about going to the Trade Center, but decided to go when we got back to town. We headed back to our apartment to finish packing for our trip to San Francisco and Wine Country. The weather started to look ominous, and Jayne (not a good flyer) got nervous. I told her we had nothing to worry about.

When we got to JFK, the sky blackened and it started to pour. We boarded our plane, which had a departure time of 5:20 pm. Jayne sank her nails into my arm as we headed to the taxi way. The plane stopped on the taxi way and the pilot announced that we would be delayed until the weather cleared.

After a little while, the pilot announced that he was going to shut off the engines to conserve fuel, and that the flight attendants were going to serve drinks, and that we could unfasten our seat belts, move around, and even use our cell phones. I got a call from Ron Nicholas, an old college friend, purely by chance. We hadn't spoken in years, and he called me to ask if I had any connections to help out his nephew, who was interested in becoming a sound engineer. We had a pleasant conversation for about ten minutes before the pilot announced that they were going to serve dinner and show a movie. Huge lightening bolts filled the sky, and Jayne got a call from her brother, who was still in town. He and his son were at Yankee Stadium and the game was being postponed because of the storm. We eventually took off after 10:00 pm.

After an uneventful flight we landed at SFO well after midnight. We went to the car rental desk where we had our reservations. It was around 1:00 am Pacific time, 4:00 am Eastern time, September 11th. There were no large cars left, and we had too much luggage to use a mid-size. We told the attendant that we had just gotten married and that we were starting our honeymoon. He congratulated us and gave us an upgrade to a luxury car.

Our honeymoon was planned to be the first four days in Wine Country and then three days in San Francisco. We drove to the Airport Best Western, where we had always planned on staying that first night, since we knew we would land at dark or later and we had no desire to drive on strange country roads after dark.

Even though we were tired, our body clocks were still on Eastern time, and we woke up at 6:00 am. At home, Jayne always gets up at 7:00 and turns on the Today Show. That day we didn't. A little honeymooning began, and afterwards we got into the shower and continued being giggling newlyweds. We got out of the shower and I started shaving. Jayne dried off and finally turned on the TV. It was 7:30 am, Pacific time, 10:30 Eastern. The first channel had the Fox logo and the news was covering a huge fire that looked like a trailer for an Arnold Schwartzenegger movie. She started to flip from channel to channel and the same thing was on every station. She called out to me that something was strange. I was just finishing shaving and looked over at the TV when she located a station that had the NBC logo. The sound came on, and the first thing we heard was Tom Brokaw's voice saying "And the World Trade Center is no more."

Jayne started to scream. "Oh, my God, it's real!" I ran to the TV and looked at the screen. It became a picture-in-picture with the local San Francisco news staff announcing that the bridges were closed and the airport area was being quarantined and that road blocks were being set up. They put up a map on the screen where the road blocks were being placed. We were inside the quarantine area. We quickly decided to get out. I reasoned that whatever was going on we were better off in a small town inland than a big city on the coast.

We drove out of the hotel parking lot filled with people standing around in shock wondering what to do next. We drove the long way around San Francisco Bay, even though we had heard an announcement that the bridges were not closed after all.

We stopped for breakfast in a diner on the far side of the bay, just off the interstate. A party of four at the next table were loud and laughing about something. We were on our cell phones calling relatives to tell them we were safe. Since we had New York cell phones nobody could call us, we could only call out. The people at the next table heard that we were in from New York and they got quiet.

We made it to Healdsburg at noon. It was like stepping into Brigadoon. It was like nothing happened. We had accommodations at an inn. The innkeeper was relieved to see us. She thought we might have been on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. She told us that our room wasn't ready yet and that check-in wasn't until 4:00 and that we couldn't check in. We went on a wine tour to kill the time.

When we finally checked in, we found that some of our fellow guests were two couples from Augusta, Georgia. The husband of one of the couples dominated the only TV in the inn, in the lobby. He groused about how now his stocks were going to go in the toilet. It was the only thing he cared about. He would only watch Fox news, saying that it was the only source of the truth.

The subtext of his conversation with me was that New York City was a sadly necessary evil that had the banks and the stock market but that he saw it as a shithole of niggers and kikes and spics and fags. Jayne and I were talking about people we knew that worked in the Trade Center and he spat out at me as cruelly as he could muster- "I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there were 50,000 people in there, and they're all dead." I said nothing, but thought that no, he liked being the bearer of bad tidings, and that he was a cracker who did not deserve the wealth he had, and that maybe the south should have seceded from the union.

We spent the rest of the day in front of the TV, occasionally making calls, rarely getting through to anyone in New York. Finally we went out to dinner. When we came back to the inn we avoided the Georgia Cracker and went upstairs to our room and held each other until we fell asleep.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?