Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Theme Thursday: Suitcase

Squinting into the mirror, too early to look myself in the eye, as I brush my teeth. A quick kiss and out the door, suitcase in hand. Raleigh airport, next stop Florida.

Busy morning, all knees and elbows. Packed tight like a can of ravioli, all over each other and an unnatural smell. Retinas burn as we slice through the cloud cover catch the suns first rays. Rather beautiful actually, at this height the world seems peaceful.

Speakers crackle, a disembodied voice informs us we will be putting down in Atlanta, unscheduled. Please disembark and await further instructions. Out the tunnel into the terminal, people buzzing like bees, cell phones attached to every ear. A television catches my eye and I watch something explode into a building. The television goes black and we are left to wonder.

All circuits are busy now. All circuits are busy. My secretary finally, let my wife know I am safe and get me a car. All circuits are busy...

Someone blew up New York...They took out buildings...Can you get through...We are at war...

Thousands of people walk aimless, without purpose. Castaways on an island, cut off from the world. People everywhere, slumping against walls, dialing numbers, standing in line in hopes of a way off the island. Every scrap of news shared with huddled masses, some true. Hours pass.

Conveyors start, belching an endless line of luggage. Straddling the river, we grab bags and build mountains of suitcases. Mine is not here, each one a step closer, each one bringing relief to someone. New friends are made amidst the chaos, watching out for each other. Sweat pooling on our lips means we are still here, still alive. There have been more attacks.

All those people...in the buildings. Tears. Yes honey, I am here. I love you. I will talk to you when I can get through again and be home when I can. Tears. How could this happen? Tears.

Hours. My number is called, a car. Anyone going to Columbus? No suitcase, I had given up. Maslow...the need to get out of the walls, to breathe, trumps the need for clothing. Walmart closed for curfew, guess this suit will do. Keys in hand walking toward the door, far from home, into a world that seems so different.

Rising out of the bowels, the grey bag slides down onto the conveyor. Hands grabbing to shift it to the pile. Thanks, I'll take that. It's mine. The first smile of the day, I stride for the door, suitcase in hand, happy to have it. A small piece of home in troubled times goes a long way.
_________

For all those that lost loved ones on 9.11.01, my story seems trite. My heart goes out to you as your piece of home never came. 

33 comments:

mum said...

Nothing trite about realness, Brian. Excellent post. Thank you.

Lover of Life said...

Wow - great post, so well written. It brought back memories for me - my husband was staying right across the street from the world trade center. You brought back all those fears and calls so well. It took three days to get him out of NYC and six months to get his things from the hotel. Then he had to sign a release stating he wouldn't sue if his things had been contaminated...

Ronda Laveen said...

Not trite at all. It is a cross-section of the day as it unfolded. Until now, I hadn't give an real thought how all those flying on that morning were affected. It must have been unsettling to wonder when and where the next strikes would be. Thanks for this slice. Yes, Blessings for all involved in 911.

Marianna said...

I still remember every single detail of the what, where and when I was that day (and I was miles and miles away)...I can't even begin to inagine what it was like for the people who actually went through all this.

Thank you for this post Brian...

Mrsupole said...

Hi Brian,

There are certain days during our lives that we will always remember and this is one. Plus since it affected the whole world, this day is one day that will always live in infamy. All I can say is that I am glad you were safe and got your suitcase back, and that you were able to get back home. It must of been very terrifying for all the families that had to travel for the next few weeks.

Still to this day, I think everyone still worries to some degree. This will be a fact that we will all live with for the rest of our lives.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

God bless.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

so subtle in it's powerfulness....as those before me have written here, be assured there is nothing trite in this wonderful wrought story.

thank you for sharing your story of 'the day'

namaste!

subtorp77 said...

Never trite Brian, that. One of my nephew's uncles( on their mother's side ) was in tower #7 when the attack hit. He was among the wanderers that day...for him it will never end.

To be stranded far from home, despite the circumstances; I can relate to that in more ways than one. Too, you showed courage in this, while the "panic" is all around. Lest we not forget...

Baino said...

No Brian. Not trite. We need to remember. I need to remember. I do each September 11 but in between I forget the awfulness of that day. I woke up and watched the morning news and thought it was a hoax. We also need to remember the vengeance we've wreaked on others and how many more we've killed since that dreadful day, just because of it. Brilliant post, quiet, short but so succinct.

Daniel said...

Thoughts always rumbling around the mind. Some bob up to the surface of our consciousness from time to time. I too remember. Peace.

The Clever Pup said...

The weather was beautiful that day in Toronto. And I wondered how can this disaster be happening on such a gorgeous day. It's a day I will never forget. I don't know how New Yorkers ever got over it. Thanks Brian.

Brian Miller said...

@mum - ty. nice to meet you. mona lisa will never be the same.

@lol - wow. must have been a scary time. when the day was done i found myself in columbus, ga. prob not the best choice as there were tanks roaming the streets with the base there.

@ronda - the relief or reality of flying on that day came much later. happy thursday. : )

@marianna - hard to forget these days. hope you are having a great thursday.

@mrsu - feels great to have your comments grace my page again and know that you are better. in some way i do think we all remember...maybe more for the travel troubles since. stories of that day at ground zero are haunting.

@mouse - ty

@subby - feel for your nephew. far from home is never fun, especially when you don't know when it will end. never forget.

@baino -so many lives affected or lost for want of what? thank you to the soliders, following orders...appreciate your service.

@daniel - bubble, bubble toil and trouble...

@clever - heard round the world, it changed the colors of the day...happy TT!

Wings said...

Great post. And I understand you feeling like your little rememberance isn't much compared to those who lost loved ones. But it is one of those times in life, sadly, when we will never forget where we were or what we were doing.

Candie Bracci said...

Wonderful post Brian!You have given honestly how you have lived the moment.I've never been in America.When it happened I was on my first day trial for a job,freshly arriving in London.I remember watching it on TV,it seems surreal.My heart goes with the ones who have lost someone in there too!And to the ones also who have helped and who haven't been taken care as they should even now as they have health issues due to the inhalation(watch "Sicko" by Michael Moore,this seems surreal too).Great post,once again.
Have a nice day

tut-tut said...

Actually, I had not heard before what it was like for those who were in the air during the attacks, not knowing what on earth was going on. What panic. I like your very interesting similes (can of ravioli). Thanks for this post.

VE said...

Nice retelling. I'm very glad I wasn't traveling at that time. I'd done over half a million miles before that time though so odds were good I might have been. That must have been very odd at the time.

Debo Hobo said...

To this day I am in awe and dismay over that day...

lakeviewer said...

Wow. This is raw and intimate. Great writing.

willow said...

Poignant description of your experience of a day the world will never forget.

Columbus, OH? Are you a buckeye?

Colette Amelia said...

Well it is good to see just how much it impacted so many even if you say it is trite. But how can being alone, afraid, sad, confused, shocked be considered trite? It is really amazing just how little reminders of home can comfort us.

thanks for this it was very powerful.

Brian Miller said...

@wings - you captured well the feeling when i put trite...seems small the trials i faced in lieu of losing my life or that of one i loved.

@candi - surreal is definitely the word. when they cut the television feed to the terminals after the tower fell (prob to keep everyone calm?) we were lost to what was happening. little snippets gathered fromt eh few that got through to people. even then it was filtered by the emtions of those relaying or receiving....

@tut-tut - ty. interesting no peoples stories of the same event are ever the same

@ve - traveller, eh? used to be all the time when i was with Citi

@debo - know the feeling....

@lakeviewer - ty. thanks for stopping by.

@willow - nope. i holed up in Columbus, GA for that week. small town, great steaks. thats when it got real surreal with tanks in the streets...my wife was born in columbus, oh before she was adopted.

@colette - ty. too true.

Sandra Leigh said...

Not trite at all, Brian - very touching, beautiful memoir.

Lola said...

This deserves a long applause.
I am honored to be reading this, thank you.

otin said...

Very powerful, you should write a book, if you have not already! Also are you a NC guy?, I noticed you flew from Raleigh>

Leah said...

I still have so much trouble thinking about 9/11. We were so scared here. My husband worked around the clock at Ground Zero from hours after the collapse til three days later, when I finally saw him again. It was awful, still is, for me it's so personal and up close. I'm glad you posted though. Oof. Deep breath.

No one's experience of that day can be called trite.

Anonymous said...

I remember that day all too well. If I'd known you were in Atlanta I'd have come gotten you. I was just across 75 all morning. Until they told us to go home and hug someone. Which I did. Poignant post, Man.

-DF

Nicole said...

This was a great post! I was a little kid when this happened. I remember, my mom watching the TV, real upset. Blue sky. Airplanes. Little kids running around me. Going to school. Not knowing what is going on. Little kids don't understand, but later on, we learn what happened. Thanks for this post, man!

Jaime said...

wow. scary to be on a plane on 9-11. my dad was on a united flight out of newark that morning, fortunately not the one that was hijacked, but still very scary.

Brian Miller said...

@sandra - ty

@lola - (smiles) ty.

@otin - lived in NC for five, almost six years. always been a UNC fan. Live in Lynchburg, VA now.

@leah - thanks so much for sharing your experience and please thank the hubby for all his hard work. Know it was tough for him, and you. thanks for making it personal.

@DF - good to see you man. need some more songs, got quiet after teh "show" the other night. what happened?

@nicole - ty. can't imagine the thoughts going through a kids mind watching that.

@jaime - glad your dad was ok through it all. scary for all of us. thanks.

books,coffee,etc.... said...

Hi! Brian Miller,
Your personal life experience is most definitely, not "trite" at all!...I must admit that is most interesting how you "tied" your "thought reflecting" piece in with your "suitcase" too!...and how placing priority on (Family and Friends) is most definitely, important in ones' life over things that we sometimes think is important.(material things)
Thanks, for sharing!...
DeeDee ;-D

The Silver Fox said...

"Suitcase" was a great starting point for a great post (and yes, I repeated "great" on purpose, for emphasis). I can't recall reading any other reminiscences from people who were on other planes that day. Excellent viewpoint.

Roy said...

This was good, Brian! Nothing trite about it at all. I have a close friend who lives in TX who was on vacation at Disney World in FL with her toddler son, and they were trapped there by the emergency. She learned how fast an amusement park can stop being amusing. Like you, they basically lived in the airport until they finally lifted the flight embargo. Yup, cell phone was in use; I got several calls from her while they waited.

California Girl said...

You've captured your moment on the day and it has me thinking of my own; not as dramatic as yours. It was all too surreal, watching it as it occurred on tv. I kept thinking I was watching a movie. It could not be true.

Still hard to believe.

tony said...

Some Powerful Images Brian............seeing a Suitcase intact is sometimes The Perfect Metaphor for a Life Intact.
A Important Post.You& Yours have a Great Weekend.