Tuesday, April 14, 2009


While at work I listen to NPR through my computer.  Usually it's Morning Edition followed by All Things Considered from the previous day.  But at the beginning of the week my favorite show is new and I anxiously await listening to This American Life.  Today, I watched the page buffer wondering what gem of American life would be there for me to speed along my day.  But much to my dismay, it was a repeat from not so long ago.  But there was sweet relief.  They have archives.  I have been listening to the show since November 2001 and in my boredom over the years have listened to most of the shows in the archives.  Today I figured I would go back to before then and see what was going on in the world all those years ago.

For whatever grim reason, maybe because I have only lately been able to acknowledge the existence of the day, my mouse rested on the show from September 21st, 2001.  It was the first that they were able to produce with any information about the attacks on the 11th.  So I decided to listen.  Amazingly, I could listen with somewhat detached interest.  I still got the ache in my throat while listening to discussions of the escape from and subsequent fall of the towers.  But I wasn't overwhelmed.

You see, until only weeks ago I saw my life as "Before and After", ironically the name of this episode of This American Life.  "Before" that Tuesday my life was on a straight trajectory to success.  I loved my job as a flight attendant based out of Newark, NJ.  I had the perfect boyfriend and we were planning a trip to Hawaii at the beginning of October, around my birthday, where it was simply known that he would propose.  He was already wearing a ring on his left ring finger, a show of commitment for all of the vulturistic flight attendants.  He was a pilot, first officer on the 737, with a bright future. 

On September 9th, I had spent the night in Washington D.C. on a trip. I couldn't get a hold of Andrew that night.  He was heading out on a 4-day trip to L.A. from Newark late on the 10th and was supposed to be in his hometown of Toronto that night visiting his family.  I called his parent's home and they seemed surprised to hear from me.  He wasn't there.  His phone went straight to voicemail.  My phone rang at 3 a.m. and I answered with pounding heart after having cried myself to sleep, so relieved to hear from him.  But it wasn't him.  It was my college boyfriend, calling a year after I left him to yell at me for being so callous as to leave him with only a note.  My head was swimming from trying to drink away my concerns the night before.  I apologized, tried to figure out if I had drunk dialed him and thus received this call.  I hadn't. I looked at my call list after I hung up with my random caller and saw a 1 a.m. call to Andrew which was well after I had sworn not to call him again at 10 o'clock that night. I had caved, in an alcohol-induced haze of self-pity, but the short call time reminded me that he had still not answered.  I could vaguely remember myself standing in a small bar bathroom, some bar in D.C. that I still don't know how or with whom I ended up, plugging one ear to hear the ringing over the pounding music, hoping to hear his voice.  And I did, but it was voicemail. With my last shred of dignity, I hung up without leaving a pleading or angry message.

On the morning of the 10th, I got up, threw up, hopped in the shower and climbed into yesterday's uniform.  I met up with my crew and headed to the plane where the saviour of a captain fed me oxygen to get me up and going again.  We flew out of Reagan Intl. and I completed my day, still never having heard from Andrew.  When I ended my trip at Newark International I decided to stay at his place instead of mine.  I was hoping I would catch him before he left on his trip to L.A.  But I fell asleep that night, in his apartment on the Hudson in Bayonne, New Jersey, with no idea of where he was.  His bags were packed, his uniforms were gone, but he never had called.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh I almost felt like vomiting during this whole post. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry.