Hi! I'm Lauren, and I need a Lobotomy.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It did not pass me by even though I didn’t comment on it. I thought about it all day. I think about it every day. It makes me sad, to my core, still. So much so that I can’t watch a documentary on it or listen to radio reports. I have to look away when something comes onto the TV and I have a hard time talking about it in anything more than facts. When I bring the human factor into it I can no longer bear it. I cried and cried and cried the day it happened and for many days after. Being from Boston I was terrified someone I knew was on one of those planes. My Father in Law (at the time he wasn’t my FIL, just my boyfriend’s father) was a Captain for an Continental, based out of Newark, and I was so scared until we heard from him. My Mother in Law (same situation) was a flight attendant for United. We were terrified for her. As more news came out, and I learned all of my loved ones were safe, I breathed a small sigh of relief. My dad called to tell me he was over Pennsylvania when the plane there went down and had to make an emergency landing. He wasn’t very far from the site of the crash. It was so close and so scary. I still remember the eerie silence from the skies as air traffic was shut down.

Along with the rest of this country, I was terrified with what was going to happen next. I lived in Europe during (what is now known as) the first Gulf War and it was quite scary at times. You didn’t know if the war would spill over to Europe, or if long-range missiles would be able to reach you and hit you when you played outside. We had bomb shelters built into every home we lived in – left over from WWI and WWII – and I would wonder if we would ever have to use them. We did not, thankfully, need them for anything other than wine storage.

I was there when the Berlin Wall came down. I have a piece of it somewhere. I was there when so many great things were happening for the people, yet there seemed to be an overwhelming sense of dread, like the other shoe could drop at any time and we would be scattered and scrambling, the peace over and the skies dark once again. I was in Zug, Switzerland for its 500 year celebration, and I was scared we would have to bike home in a hurry. The fear subsided over time.

We moved to Germany after Switzerland and it was in Germany that the fear set in again. I went to an International school – a school with around 180 countries represented. Many of the students were children of military officers and diplomats. We had armed guards at the school and a fence topped with razor wire. We stayed in the compound all day and were only released to people with proper ID. It brought my fear back again. I was young and idyllic and didn’t understand why people would want to hurt each other. I still don’t understand it.

And so it was that 9/11 brought back those gasp-inducing fears from my childhood and rendered me unable to function above a base level. I thought we would be living in that fear again; that uncertainty. We pulled together as a nation and tried to right the wrong. People signed up for the military, we were patriotic, we seemed to forget our differences (as long as someone wasn’t Muslim – which was not right or ok) and we banded together to try and help each other. In light of the tragedy and the prejudices going on, I was very proud of this country. Having lived in other cultures, I would always choose America and it made me proud to be from this country.

Brian rejoined the Army Guard after 9/11 – it was the only branch that would take him because of his previously broken leg that occurred while he was a Marine – and he went off to training. We weren’t engaged yet, so I spent time alone while he trained and drilled and learned his new role in life. We were married two or three days before his first deployment in 2003.

In the last ten years we have endured much and learned much and come out stronger because of it. I am sad that I lost the rest of my innocence that day. I am sad that most of us did. I had lived close enough to a war zone as a child that I thought I would be immune to it; immune to the panic and fear when things are uncertain in the future.

I did not lose a family member or friend on that day. I am so fortunate. I will never be able to express my condolences for the people that were lost that day. Words do not express my pain for them. It is with my heart that I send a silver thread of thoughts to them and hope they know that I stand beside them even though they do not know me and probably never will.

Brian and I were in Tunica, Mississippi yesterday. We stopped to get something to eat on our way back to Little Rock after visiting Memphis, TN. The TV was showing the memorial services and reports and it was hard to avoid looking. I mentioned to him that I couldn’t watch these programs. He said he can’t, either. He tried a couple of weeks ago and broke down. For both of us the memory is alive in our minds every day. As we sat there, eating delicious southern food on a highway lined with cotton, I told him, pointing to the TV, that we would not be here (meaning Tunica) if not for that. And it’s true. I don’t know when we would have found ourselves in Tunica, Mississippi, if 9/11 had never happened. I think our drive through the sparsely populated southern countryside was what we needed yesterday. Every day we are apart is enough of a reminder of things that transpired ten years ago, and that which happened next to lead us where we will be in the future.

The sacrifice we make daily is a sacrifice for the survivors of 9/11, which includes our whole country. Every single citizen. I am proud of Brian and all of our service men and women who work ceaselessly to defend our freedoms here in the USA. I have been where life isn’t as carefree as the one we live here. The people killed on 9/11, and those during the following wars will not be forgotten by me, my children and my family. We live our memorial daily. Ten years on the memories and images burned into my mind are still too raw and painful. May they all rest in peace and may we all find peace.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

The kindness of strangers is such a pleasant thing sometimes. I often forget how nice people can be.

Today I am going to Little Rock, AK, to see Brian. He graduated from his school in TX and is now headed to his next class.

I scrambled to get myself to the airport on time. I haven’t really had more than a few minutes to sit down in the rush to get out of town and get the kids to my dad’s for the weekend. This morning, while trying to type a report, pack, and clean the house so I didn’t return to a mess, my dad convinced me to just throw the rest of the laundry (wet) into my suitcase and get to the airport. With two hours before my flight I figured I was okay. I drove to the airport, not speeding because I figured everything would be ok, and parked. I got on the shuttle and rode the rest of the way to the airport. It took a few moments to get my bag checked and I still thought I was ok.

It was then that I saw the line for security. It was long, but not much longer than usual. It seemed to move fast enough – until I got to the scanning machines. Then it stopped. And stopped. And stopped. I didn’t have my watch on and so I couldn’t really gauge the time. It didn’t seem too bad. After I made it through security I put my watch on and checked the time. I still had twenty minutes to catch the flight. I got on the train, waited patiently for it to get me to my terminal, and then exited the train. I checked my watch and still had fifteen minutes. I took a couple minutes in the shop to grab a book and then started hoofing it to the gate. I got stuck behind some people who didn’t appear to know that it was ‘stand’ on the right and ‘walk’ on the left of the walking escalator. Of course, this would be a day I would wear the inappropriate shoes to the airport. I need to look cute for Brian and all… Well, I finally made it to the gate. I thought I was good. I had eight minutes to go, after all! I took a little bit to figure out how to get onto the plane and finally asked the lady standing behind the desk.

She informed me that the flight stopped boarding two minutes ago.

I missed my flight by TWO FLIPPING MINUTES!

On my boarding pass it says the plane departs at 10:45. It starts boarding at 10:25. Nowhere on there does it say that it stops boarding at 10:35. Apparently they always close boarding ten minutes before the flight time. I wasn’t aware of this little tidbit of information. I feel as if that would be a very beneficial thing to know. I fly frequently and have never run into this problem. Maybe they could print it on the boarding pass?? I wouldn’t have stopped to get a book. I would have pushed through people on the escalator. I would have done so many things differently.

I broke down and started crying, of course.  With so little time to see Brian every hour is precious. Every minute is precious. You don’t think about those things when you are together all the time. Sometimes the people you love get on your nerves. Goodness knows that when Brian and I are together for a while we annoy each other to no end. Right now, though, I want to be with him, and every hour I sit here waiting is a little more time we won’t get to enjoy each other’s company.

But anywho – back to my main point…

After I gave myself a talking to for my stupidity and pulled up my big girl panties (I was still teary, of course, and other people in the terminal were giving me funny looks) I put myself on standby and wandered around, trying to figure out what to do with my sorry self.

I had lost a piece to my phone charger in my travels yesterday and my phone was dead. I teared up a bit because I didn’t want to use a pay phone due to the outrageous charges that whatever company has the pay phones in DIA charges. I wandered aimlessly, contemplating going to the USO room or getting a drink. I know it was only 10:45 in the morning, but don’t judge.

Instead of going to the USO I found myself drawn to the already very crowded bar. I took my red eyes into the bar and sat down at the corner furthest from the door. The gentleman next to me turned to look at me and I said hi. He nodded. I was still shaken from my experience and told him I had missed my flight by two minutes – something I don’t normally do because usually I avoid people I don’t know. I think it was because I was so miserable inside still.

I ordered a bloody mary and the man next to me left. The waitress brought me my bill and it was $0.00. I don’t know who this man is, but I sure wish I could thank him! (So here is my thanks, not that he will ever read this)

A few minutes after he left, and while I was still trying to figure out what to do with myself, two other people came in and sat next to me.  They were about my age and the guy said hello. I’m sure I looked more than a little bewildered still. I was taking out the new, cursed, book I had bought out of my backpack when the girl he was with asked me if I was in the military. I am using one of Brian’s camouflage book bags as my carry on. I said “No, but my husband is.”

I started to turn away but then I worked up my courage and asked if they had a phone I could use. I NEVER do that. Usually my stinking pride keeps me from asking people for help.

Not only did the guy let me use his phone to call Brian to tell him to not to speed to meet me at the airport, he let me use his charger to charge my phone. I now have 7% battery life, which is enough to call Brian when I get into Little Rock. I thanked them profusely but they told me not to worry about it – it was the least they could do for all the sacrifices my family has made to keep them safe. I think that is something I will always carry with me in my heart.

Right now I am imagining my bag circling round and round and round on the carousel – alone and desolate, wondering when its mommy will be there to collect it.

I know I don’t often ask for help, but I’m glad I did. I will always be grateful to the nice people I met at DIA today. I am calm and ready to travel, ready to meet whatever obstacles come my way. But God help me if I don’t get on the next flight!!