September 11, 2001

Yes, before you say it, I do know it is not yet September 11; not yet the anniversary of that day we all remember with such sadness.  But today, for whatever reason, I was thinking about that day, and musing on something I learned.  74651d1315288532-twin-towers-twin-towers-img

We all have stories, many of them tragic.  This story is just a small part of my day, but one that changed me for the better, though I did not see that for a long time.

After we saw the towers fall, after I reached those most important to me (or they reached me), after our office closed, and while I was making the long trek home (a story of its own, for another time), I spoke to a friend on the phone.  Someone who, at the time, I would have called a close friend.   She asked me what I was doing, and I told her I was headed home.  She then told me that she and a number of others were going to a mutual friend’s house, and to get home safe.  She said good-bye, and ended the call.

I went home.  Alone.  I spoke to a few people on the phone, cuddled my cats, dealt with work calls (what a day to be on the emergency beeper…), and after a while, stopped watching news coverage in favor of bad movies.   And wondered why my friend had not said “come join us”.

It was a long time before I asked her that question, and her answer was basically that I should have asked to come, or just showed up.  I was deeply hurt, and said so – and she did not understand why.  And that she did not know me well enough to know that neither of those were options for me, especially that day, told me a lot.  About her, but eventually about myself.

How could I have someone I considered a close friend with whom I had shared so little that she did not have any idea that I needed to be invited?  That I always wonder if I’m welcome?  And how could I could I consider myself a friend if I was withholding those trusts?

So, now, at least to close friends, I tell all.  I mean, after all, what do I have to hide?  I am the person I am, and if you’re sharing your life with me, the least I can do is the same.

But still, I like to be invited.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suzanne Demcisak
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 20:52:43

    I have a similar feeling; I am really reluctant to go anywhere without being invited. I always wonder if I’m welcome. It must have been awfully rough for you to be alone that day when someone could have reached out to you.

    Reply

  2. travelswithslippers
    Sep 08, 2013 @ 07:53:59

    Yes. But most people say I should have reached out. I thought I had, frankly, but I guess I was too subtle.

    Reply

  3. cjmcgean
    Sep 08, 2013 @ 12:36:58

    This makes me think about a lesson I seem to be constantly learning from my husband Sam. The lesson that, when someone is hurting, it’s not enough to say, “Let me know if you need anything.” It’s worth it to go the extra step and ask yourself, “What might they need?” and then offer something specific. “Can I get groceries for you?” “I’m bringing a casserole.” “Do you need a place to stay?” I think sometimes when we are reeling ourselves, we lose the capacity in that moment to stop and think, and we can fall into habits of selfishness. It’s easier to reach out with a specific offer when you are outside the hurt.

    Reply

  4. Erin
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 21:04:22

    That day I found a friend who lived nearby and we spent time together at one point walking up 9th Avenue towards the Red Cross thinking at the very least we could donate blood, only to have people walking back down from there saying to turn around as it wasn’t needed. She stayed with me as I was worried about a family member who worked down there and was still missing and then finally got the call that they were okay. Eventually that night when they opened the Lincoln Tunnel to buses leaving the city, she wanted to get out to her family in New Jersey. Before she did so, she asked me if I would be okay if she left. I said yes and that I understood. In hindsight and after hearing your story, I appreciate even more that she asked. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I knew you better back then.

    Reply

  5. travelswithslippers
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 21:19:43

    Me too.

    Reply

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