... we were coming back from spending a week visiting Western New York.
My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I attended her grandfather's wedding outside Calendonia, New York. It was my first time in that part of the state--I visited New York City, which is six hours away, when I was young--so I didn't know what to expect.
From what I recall, the weather was warm and sunny that week. For some reason I want to say it was unseasonably warm for that area.
While there, we visited Niagara Falls, Letchworth State Park, and Batavia, New York, where my wife was born.
Having had such a good visit, we both debated whether to return to Austin so soon. As we waited in the ticket lobby to check in, we noticed a flight to New York City.
"We could go to New York City," my girlfriend suggested.
I thought seriously about it. We probably even calculated how much room in our credit cards we had to go to New York City as we waited in line. Even after we checked in at the ticket counter and made our way to our gate, we thought about making a last minute change in destination. The only thing that kept us from going to NYC was that we had to return to work and school.
Yes, there was something in the air that day, September 10, 2001. I'm not a "9/11 Truther," but I think unsubstantiated chatter was detected by our law enforcement the week leading to September 11th. It was evident that morning in the airport when I noticed heavy airport security and Buffalo PD roaming around the terminal.
When I was at the gift shop, a couple of police officers caught my attention. One of them walked into the gift shop and looked at every shopper, including myself. After purchasing my items, which included two NYPD caps, and exiting the gift shop I noticed more police gathering together. I didn't think much after that, though. Of course, perhaps they were looking for something different, but it was quite odd that border security in Niagara Falls was noticeably tight during our visit days earlier.
I've thought about the "what if" many times. Had we gone to NYC, we would have experienced that horrific day. Knowing me, we would have been up early to visit the many sights in Manhattan. Although the twin towers were a tourist destination, I would have probably avoided the Financial District. Possibly the only reason we would have been in the area was to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
It was good that we returned to Austin. When we landed in Austin, I recieved a call from my dad that my mother was going into surgery after a serious fall that busted her knee. I dropped off my girlfriend at her apartment, went home to pick up clean clothes and made my way to McAllen.
The following morning was like any other morning, except my mom was in bed recovering from surgery. The housekeeper was cooking. My dad was getting ready for his classes. I woke up early to go into the district office--I worked for a state legislator from McAllen.
I turned on the TV to Good Morning America. After muddling around, I made my way to the shower. In my half-foggy brain, I was contemplating how I was going to tell my parents that I was getting serious with my girlfriend. I was to tell them that she was the one.
When I returned to my bedroom I noticed Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson breaking in on an interview to report what looked like a fire at the Twin Towers. I sat for a while to watch the images of the burning tower as an eyewitness described the situation.
After getting out the ironing board, I turned to the TV again and heard the the eyewitness and Diane Swayer say "Oh, my God" as UA Flight 175 crashed into the second tower. Diane's fear could be heard in her voice as she struggled to keep composure. I couldn't turn away from the tube.
For the rest of the day, my family and I watched the various new coverage. Indeed, we feared the unknown.
You can read my previous post on September 11th HERE.
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