On 09/11/01, I was given a sweet good bye kiss from Duane as he left for work at 3:30 AM for his 4:00 AM shift to start. It was "the crush" and he was making wine for a custom wine crushing facility, we lived in a small town on the Central coast at the time - hundreds of miles from any family. It was Duane's second crush season and I was quickly learning to really hate this aspect of his "new found career". I fell back asleep and woke again at 5:30 AM and as I headed out the door to work I quickly turned on the Today show (huge Matt Lauer fan, btw). I was running late and heard Katie Couric mention something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center - they were unsure of why it occurred and mentioned it possibly to be an accident. I turned off the TV and ran out of the house, I was late for work already.
During my car ride to work, I got to listen to the Today show on the radio and hear the story unfold. At one point, I picked up my cell to call my mom - "That's right, she is at LAX on her way to visit friends in San Antonio, TX" I thought aloud. My mom was sitting on the Tarmack in the plane, waiting to get the OK to taxi down the runway when they were evacuated. Later that morning I would hear her voice and cry like I have never cried before. Eventually, I heard from my mom, my dad, my brother - no Duane. I knew he was safe, I just needed to hear his voice.
I arrived at the small start up company I was working for at the time to find everyone gathered in the conference room - standing and watching TV. I don't think it really hit me until I watched it on TV and even then it felt completely surreal. Most of us stayed at work though we were released to leave, I had no family and few friends in our small town. I really had nowhere to go. Our company employed quite a few interns from Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo and I had a good repore with these youngsters. While most of the "grown-ups" filed out to pick up children from school or return home where their spouse was waiting, the kids (and I) of the group waited at work and became a family of our own.
I stayed there for hours until finally around 1:00 ish everyone left and I returned to find a very quiet home, Duane would not be home until around 4:30 or close to 5:00. I sat and watched TV, feeling very alone and hugging the phone. I must have called all of our So Cal friends to just "check in". Duane arrived home and when he watched the pictures on TV he mentioned that a few of the truck drivers dumping grapes had mentioned things like " Did you hear about the WTC"? Did you hear about Pennsylvania? The Pentagon? Have you heard anything? Picking up bits and pieces he knew something went down and had no idea until he came home and watched the evening news. He wept as he watched the images for the first time, as did many of us. He then felt immediate remorse and guilt for rushing people through, realizing they were trying to connect and everyone was experiencing emotional pain that day.
After 09/11, our very small town hit an all time economic low (as did many) and while Duane had been part of a mass layoff, my job at the start-up was not a complete guarantee. We made the decision to move back to So Cal, to be closer to friends and family and Duane would return back to his former profession in Human Resources, as would I. There was more oppourtunity for us here.
It is hard not to wonder what things would be like if we stayed in Paso Robles and just "found other jobs". What would it be like to experience infertility in Paso with few family and friends - would it be easier or more difficult? I think about the giggle I get when I run into my mom and dad - here where I live, something I greatly missed living so far away from them. I have friends here, close, good friends. This is my birthplace, where I went to school. It would have been difficult to complete my degree as there were no programs for working adults though we were close to a large Cal State school. I know it was the right move back for us and then I think about my niece and nephew and cannot imagine not seeing them on a weekly basis and my immediate- day to day world - without them.