Hubby was not happy. He isn’t that crazy about travel, and this time I was dragging him onto an airplane for an eight-hour flight across the ocean to a foreign country. For me, it was the trip of a lifetime, the vacation I’d waited 20 years to take. We were on our way to Scotland.
Neither Hubby nor I care much for cities. He’s interested in geology and astronomy, and I’m interested in archeology and anthropology. So while we’d be passing through Heathrow Airport, it was all of London we’d see. We’d spend the night in Glasgow, then go to a lovely estate where we’d learn about the archeology, geology, ecology and history of the northern Highlands. It was going to be wonderful.
So we boarded this HUGE airplane for the overnight flight. We walked past the really cool seats that were separated by privacy screens so you could lay them down flat and sleep comfortably. We walked past the seats with ample room to stretch out and take productive naps. We wound up in the seats with barely enough room to squeeze between the rows. And the woman in front of me was determined to make the most of the reclining feature, slight as it was.
Intellectually, I knew that timewise, Scotland is six hours ahead of us. I didn’t internalize that knowledge until we were served breakfast at midnight. I had dozed off and on for about four hours. We landed, and ligaments popped and cracked as we climbed out of our seats to a bright and cheery morning of once again going through security—this time in a miasma of sleep deprivation. We were not to get to rest until nine o’clock. We had no trouble falling asleep at what was 3 in the afternoon CDT. The next day, on September 11, we boarded a bus with the other members of our tour and rode to Aigas Field Center near Beauly, where we’d be based for the next two weeks.
(It got better, as you’ve read in an earlier blog, “Growing Wild.” I hope to write even more about that at a later date. Hubby, however, has told me, “If we can’t get there by car, I don’t want to go.” I’ve told him I’ll miss him.)
And like most of the writers who participate in GBE2, I feel a need to say a few words about this day ten years ago.
I was at a worldwide conference for communicators who worked for the company where I was employed. Attendees did indeed come from all over the world. I remember meeting a woman from Russia, another from Brazil, and men and women from all over the U.S., and I didn’t even get to meet all of them. I was just getting ready to go into a talk being given by a former manager of mine. As I passed the televisions in the hotel lobby, I noticed people standing around them, so I stopped to watch what was going on. I don’t think any of us could really believe what we were seeing.
Those who had come from other countries knew they were going to have an extended stay, and a couple didn’t get home for more than a week. Americans who had flown in were stranded for several extra days. The facility where I worked was only about an hour and a half drive from the conference location, and I had a full tank of gas, so I knew I could get home later that day. And thanks to technology, I was in touch with both my office and my husband almost immediately and continuously until I did.
Later I would watch videos of people leaping from the top floors of the Twin Towers to their deaths to escape the flames. That is the image of that day that will be forever burned into my memory. But even more deeply burned into my memory is the moment when, standing in front of those televisions with my co-workers, I realized that the entire world paradigm had just….shifted.