Monday, September 11, 2006

5 years

I was living in Paulden a very small town 30 miles north of Prescott Arizona on a 5 acre plot with 4 goats, 3 dogs, a garden and a pile of ducks and chickens.   On that particular morning like others, I had woken up before the sunrise, grabbed a shower and was off to work.  I turned on the radio which was tuned to NPR and had to turn down the volume because people were screaming into the mic, I immediately knew that something was wrong.   The normally calm and collected voices of the show Morning Edition were in the state of panic.  Reports were so fragmented so I scanned some of the AM talk radio stations to see what they were saying and there was a bunch of "oh my god's" and people crying, even worse then it was over at NPR.  

   I turned it back to NPR where they were talking about someone flying a plane into the side of the world trade center.  I listened with a growing sense of dread, tears welling up in my eyes.  I didn't have any friends that I knew of who were there but I started calling the important people in my life anyways.   There was no rhyme or reason for what I was doing, I knew I was waking some of them but some part of me needed to hear their voices.  I needed touch stones to ground me out.  

   As the day went on the news got worse and worse, I got to work and there were people jumping from buildings on live TV, huge balls of fame, pictures of taped to walls, gray dust coating everything.  It was pure pandemonium.  Why would someone do something like this?  What kind of sick-o would kill that many people?  There must be a reason. 

   All across the nation in that moment we all fell into a psychosis, unlike Pearl Harbor, we were watching events unfold live on TV.  Hundreds of millions of people all around the globe couldn't turn their eyes away from the news, I know friends who didn't work or sleep for days, just watched the news hoping for a tidbit of new information.  Some secret bit of information to answer the question of why.  In some ways I was one of them, but I went to work and slept but all of my waking hours were filled with news stories from that front line.  Visions of exploding and burning buildings were engraved on my retinas when I wasn't watching TV, I had NPR playing on my old tape player.  For the sheer chaos they were doing a pretty good job, they had a local New York affiliate reporter rollerblading around and reporting by cell phone.  I knew no good was going to come of this.  At that moment, all I wanted the people who caused this to pay.  

    I was going through a time in my life were I was abstaining from TV.  There was no TV at my house so I did the next best thing and went over to my best friend Larry's house where he was sitting there watching the news.  I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and joined him where we didn't move till late at night, we didn't want to miss any thing.  We were in a state of shock like everyone else.  This can't be happening, it was like a scene out of Independence Day.  

   I had to talk Larry out of jumping into his car and driving off to give a hand.  He had two kids and many responsibilities to take care off.  Not to mention there were countless thousands who were thinking the same thing and we were on the other side of the nation.  I wonder how many of those people lost everything by jumping off in their cars and going to help?  I'm sure there are a few of them.  

   If I lived closer, I would have done it but the car I was driving at the time wouldn't have made it, who would have paid my child support or my rent?  Every mistake in my life has been made on a spur of the moment decision and at that moment I wished I were back in the Navy, maybe I could have been someplace where I could have done something.

   A week went by and most of us were still in shock, our business was suffering too.  We specialized in hot rods and 4 X 4's, one week we were doing 500 or so hours and the next we were under a hundred hour a week.  Prescott has a bunch of retired folk living there who survive off of the stock market and were loosing their shirts.  I wouldn't have done business with us either.  I could see in my boss's eyes that he was hurting financially and I could imagine what was going to happen next, tightening the belt and laying off.  So I came up to him and said, don't worry about laying me off, I can go back into the Navy.

   So a couple of weeks later, I was pulling into the gates at 32 nd street in San Diego.  Guards everywhere and every other vehicles getting searched, they didn't even want you bringing a knife on base.   I think they got tired of searching my suburban which held a mechanics set worth of tools, maybe 300 books and all of my clothes, all stuffed in there to the top.  I had a lawn chair in back that I would pull out and a book to read when they did, usually took them 45 minutes to an hour but I never complained, it would take a 6 man team to search it in that amount of time but I really didn't have anything to hide.  

   I regret losing a rank coming back in and starting over but I can honestly say that this has been a good experience.   My regrets are minimal, being sent out into a war zone as frequently as I have isn't always joyous but if I had stayed in Arizona, I wouldn't have met my wife.   Hopefully I made a positive difference in some peoples lives and through this blog helped people get a small snapshot about what is going in that war of ours.  
It's crazy to see how far I've come in five years. 

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