I did not find out about
the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks until about 10:00 a.m.
this morning. Actually, the first thing I heard was that the first
floor of our building was being evacuated because a man with a gun
was being searched for in the building across the street. As we
were going to the windows to look out, I heard people down the hall
saying that the Pentagon had just been bombed and that two towers
of the World Trade Center were burning. At that time I looked out
and saw 2 policemen with shields and guns drawn entering the building
across the street. When it was finally explained that it was a terrorist
attack, everything seemed to start moving in slow motion to me.
I wondered if the man across the street was part of it and if this
was an all-out attack on the entire country. It even crossed my
mind that maybe this was the day I was to die. Some of the people
in my office were speaking to members of their family on the phone
and were asked to come home. When they explained they couldn't exit
the building due to the bottom floor evacuation, there were some
very concerned people. When it was finally revealed that the man
across the street only had a cap gun and the building was once again
open, we were hungry for news, but there were very few radios on
the floor, no TV's, and it was really slow going getting on the
net. When I finally saw some of the preliminary pictures coming
through, there was a part of me that thought it must be some kind
of hoax - a War of the Worlds type of show. It seemed inconceivable
that we were actually attacked on our home land and even watching
the scenes over and over again on the news that night did nothing
to alleviate the shock - the sheer astonishment that this could
really be happening and that so many people were undoubtedly dead.
Now the idea that we
are at war with a so-far phantom enemy is, to say the least, a very
chilling proposition. Being so close to the disaster area makes
it all the more spooky. Making it even more personal is the fact
that several people in the office where I work have lost someone
in the tragedy. Our campground is also pretty close to the hotel
where a couple of the hijackers stayed here in Portland the night
before they made their suicide run.
On Friday at noon there
was a tribute to the victims and lost rescuers at city hall, right
across the street from my office. There was a parade of firefighters
and police led by a few plaintive bagpipe players that gave us all
goosebumps when they passed. After the mayor spoke and the minister
prayed, he asked that we all put our hands on the shoulders of the
people in front of us to show our solidarity in this time. It was
heartening to realize that even "ordinary" people will
rise up to the level of heroes if given half a chance when the chips
are down. There was not a dry eye on the street, let me tell you...
I never thought of myself
as being particularly patriotic before this. I was a true flower
child of the 60's who was involved in the anti-war demonstrations
and anti-establishment movements of the times. I never had a strong
feeling that this country was "mine," certainly not that
it was any better than most others. It was just a place where I
happened to have been born. For me to proudly wear a flag pin on
my sweater that day had an effect on me and I was outside of my
motor home that night with my candle lit, also...
Don's daughter arrived
here for a visit on the night before the attacks. I did not see
her that evening and Don was still returning from driving me to
work the next morning when Chrisy turned on the TV and saw the horrific
pictures. She described waking up in a strange place, seeing incomprehensible
pictures on TV, and being alone not knowing where her father was.
We all want our "daddies" at times like this, don't we?
We look for anything to make us feel safe again.
Don is on the way back
tonight from Harrisburg, VA where he drove Chrisy to be picked up
by her husband. Since Southwest Airlines could not guarantee that
she would be able to make the planned flight home, and no one was
thrilled with the prospect of her getting on a plane anyway, they
decided on this course. We were all unhappy that her vacation had
to be cut short and she did not get to see hardly any of the beautiful
sights this area offers. I truly enjoyed visiting with her during
the short time we had though.
With no transportation,
I've used this day to start prepping Inspiration for the trip back
down south. It's amazing that in a space this small, there's so
much to reorganize and keep straight. While I was outside cleaning
out the bins, two local couples walked by and we got to talking
for quite a while. They are long-time "Mainiacs" and it
was nice to have the company and conversation. One man especially
had the heavy downeast accent and I had to really strain to understand
what he said. We laughed about and shared our various RV travel
stories, and they got a kick out of our getting lost between here
and Salem and the "translation" problems I experienced
trying to get directions.
I then got a call from
one of my co-workers making sure I was OK and asking if I needed
anything. That was so nice, it really touched me. I've never met
a nicer group of people than those I am now blessed to work with.
When they found out I needed a ride home on Friday and possibly
to and from work on Monday, they actually "argued" about
who would get to do it. It was really kinda of funny. There were
emails back and forth at first deciding who was closest to where
I am and who had the same work schedule. Finally this one woman
wrote: "OK, already - I hosie taking her home on Friday and
on Monday!" I wrote back asking for an interpretation and if
"hosie" was another cute Maine term I hadn't caught onto
yet - like the way everyone uses the phrase "wicked good"
to describe something really cool - I really like that one and have
adopted it into my speech now. Anyway, she said it meant like when
you're a kid and "call" the front seat when getting in
the car. That really cracked me up!
It was also interesting
that getting the opportunity to meet this woman and hear about her
life on the way home gave me a new perspective on the whole issue
of my working while I'm on the road. While I still believe I will
find some other way to make my living while traveling, I have decided
what I'm doing now is really not so bad. Working with people who
live in the area gives me a whole different perspective than I could
have by simply traveling through and being exposed to nothing but
RV people. My coworkers have adopted me into their hearts and have
made me feel so welcome and have even asked me to stay. I laugh
and say that I would except for one thing: I did not buy an RV to
stay put, especially not through a Maine winter! They chuckle and
say they totally understand that. These people love their home here,
though, and the woman who drove me home said she wouldn't leave
here for anything - that it was a big enough change for her when
she moved from South Portland to Scarborough (about 10 miles).
Home truly is where the
heart is. My heart is still so happy with my lifestyle and I'm glad
that I started this when I did. Right now with all the uncertainty
it would probably be more infeasible to begin this sort of life
than even 3 months ago when I took off. Now all I have to do is