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9-11-01 in Maine
Sept. 11 -
15, 2001
These are journal entries written during and after the tragedy of that day - definitely my least favorite memory of my first year fulltiming...

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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...

September 15, 2001

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 maintain it.

Next Journal entry: Heading to Charleston
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