September 11, 1996


Five years before it became a day of national tragedy and then one of remembrance, September 11, specifically September 11, 1996, was the last day that I would work as an unmarried woman.  

If I recall correctly (and before 2001 there was no real reason to recall this day), I was working for Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ as a sales coordinator.  That day I was assisting a sales representative with two meetings that were held very locally for Medicare recipients at the Pilgrim Diner.  It was one of my favorite places to have these informational meetings (which I would set up and assist with throughout most of the state) as it was only about half mile from my house.  We could do our morning meeting, I could go home for  a break (and so could the salesperson who lived probably about 3 miles away, which would make me think that maybe it was one of her favorite meeting places too) and then come back for our afternoon meeting.  Many times I would have an hour or more commute to a meeting place, so this was definitely one of my favorites.

My co-worker, Rhonda, who was (and is) incredibly knowledgeable about all things insurance, gave me a wedding gift that day.  She was going to give it to me at a surprise shower that was supposed to have occurred that afternoon back at the office, but it was cancelled due to a death in the department.  (I would get a belated shower when I returned to the office 2 weeks later...yes, back then I had the luxury of taking 2 whole weeks off.)  It was a beautiful glass pitcher, which I still have.  (I can't say the same of all my other wedding gifts.)

I'm pretty sure we wrapped everything up by 4 pm.  (I usually scheduled meetings for 10 and 2 which were quieter times for the restaurants in which we held these meetings.)  I would have been home on Wednesday, September 11, 1996 within ten minutes.

When I got home I probably unloaded whatever "stuff" I had in my car and finished packing up.  The next morning, Thursday, September 12, 1996, I would leave the house that I shared with my (then) finance and drive my Pontiac Sunbird down to the NJ shore and stay with my parents at their house.  I would get my very first manicure that Thursday, meet relatives that I hadn't seen in over 20 years, and go out to dinner wearing my favorite pink blazer and flowered skirt.  Then on the evening of Friday, September 13th, I would get married.

I wouldn't think much of September 11, 1996 if the events of 5 years later never happened.  If it weren't for September 13, 1996, I wouldn't have been in Walt Disney World five years later on September 11, 2001.  We honeymooned there (from September 15 - 20) and returned there to celebrate in 1997, 2000 and 2001.  Who would have thought when we arrived at the Wilderness Lodge on September 4, 2001 (why we left the day AFTER Labor Day puzzles me would have made sense to have left the Friday or Saturday before) that we would end up staying until the 16th?  Our flight down would have been the last "normal" flight we would ever take and our return home on Amtrak on Sunday afternoon into Monday evening is something I have tried to forget.  Though the Wilderness Lodge was (and is) a lovely resort (although if I recall correctly the bed was not particularly comfortable), I don't think I will ever stay there again.  The ambiance of the place is breathtaking and it has one of my favorite pools, but my memories have been tainted.

It is twenty five years later.  September 11 means more than my last day of work as an unmarried woman.  I wish it didn't.  I wish that this Saturday, September 11, 2021 was just another sunny Saturday.  But it's not.

As time marches on, I will probably forget about September 11, 1996, but I will never forget what came five years later.  Not one of us should.  Not one of us will.  Not one of us can.

Not one of us can.


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