Monday, September 11, 2006

What if...

This is one of those "sharing" posts. The following were my thoughts driving with the traffic of 395 towards the Pentagon this morning on my way to work.

Some days or events stand out as a pivotal point in life when you look back upon it. Today was one of those days. For many, Sept. 11th is a day of mourning. For me, I'm thankful that my father is alive.

In 2001, I had just graduated and was moving our house and my life from Westford, MA to Columbia, MD. The move was scheduled for early September because I was off traveling in Europe and Asia all summer. Dad had come to help with the move. He was to return to Taiwan on the 9am United flight.

When flying from Boston to Taiwan, and flying United, you have 2 choices for departure flights. It's either the 8am flight or the 9am flight. Those are the only 2 flights that will get you over to CA in time to catch the last flight across the Pacific. I remember thinking that morning that I was glad I had an extra hour to sleep in. Dad had flown the 8am the previous times he was back.

It was eerily quiet at Logan that morning. We got there 2 hours early and dad walked right up to the check in counter. No problems whatsoever. Usually, the check in line took an hour and they still had to pull him out of line because the flight was departing within the hour. We had a quiet breakfast in terminal C, watching the planes take off. Dad walked in through security and I left to drive home. I think we all know what happened after that.

I had just merged onto 128 from 93N when my phone rang. It was a little after 9 and my dad called. No one knew what was happening then. I couldn't find any news on the radio, and all they knew at the airport was that something happened and the World Trade Towers had collapsed. His plane was the next one on the run way when air traffic control grounded all planes. The next phone call came from my aunt in Taiwan. Funny how fast news travels these days.

But what if dad had been on the 8am flight like he had been in the past? If he had, he would've been one of the mourned in this public day of mourning. This difference of one hour could have also had a very big impact on my life. At that time, I was applying for a TS/SCI clearance for Raytheon into the NSA. That was why I had moved down here.

What happened for real

Because my father was living in Taiwan, even as an American citizen, the Dept of Defense would not approve my application for a clearance. This meant that there was no work for me at Raytheon's Linthicum site. I soon found a job at Raytheon Falls Church and began a Columbia, MD to Falls Church, VA commute. This commute lasted 6 months because it drove me nuts, and I couldn't take it. I moved to DC and eventually ended up in VA. I've met some interesting people that I still know. My job at Falls Church eventually ended up killing my soul and I changed to my current job. Bead Obsessions became my local bead shop and a "happy place". I also was inspired to knit, due to someone I met down here, and met some great people in my knitting groups.

If it had been the 8am flight

Dad would've been one of the people on one of the planes that went into the World Trade Center. I would not have had the immediate relative who lived outside of the country and the clearance would've gone through. I did actually have a morbid conversation with the security officer where he did admit that had he been on the 8am plane, my clearance would have been approved. It would have been unlikely that I moved to DC. I would not know the people that I know. I wouldn't even be such a regular at Bead Obsessions. I may be even more messed up and possibly, completely emotionally dead, instead of the partially dead that I am now.

So while events in life just kind of happen, there are some, when you look back, look like a fork in the road with two very different outcomes. Some you have a choice. Others, you don't. But I am thankful that he was on the 9am flight. He has a story to tell and I still have my dad. I think this was another incident where mom was looking out for us both.

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