Outside the most torrents of rain and hurricane wind beating on the small Chevrolet rental. I cannot believe I am where I am, I thought to myself. In the driver's seat sat a man, a stranger, someone I met at the Hertz counter. I tried to unclench my hands, drop my shoulders, breathe. I need to breathe. Surely, I had in tougher situations arriving at Hunan Province two years ago with only a crash course in Mandarin under my belt. I'd made my way then. I'd get out of this night, this car, alive, but somehow in China I'd been able to talk, to maneuver, while here in the swamps of Louisiana I did not know what to do.
(Susie later explained: the truth is I was in this rental car with a stranger driving me across Louisiana during a hurricane because I couldn't fly. The planes were cancelled. The part that's not true is I've never been to China.)
I started my morning on September 11th the same way that I started every morning with an early morning run. I set my alarm clock and got into my running clothes and ran for five miles before going home to get ready for work. It was my routine to run, to shower, to drive to work. I was working in the Superintendent's office at that time in Flushing, Queens, and the office had spectacular views of the old World's Fair and Shea Stadium. It also had windows that looked out over the city skyline. As I watched those towers collapse, all I could think about was getting home to my children. It seemed like an eternity with everyone trying to get out of the city. Eventually I got home. I never wanted to relive that day. I never ran again.
(Lori later explained: Well, you know I get up and I check my e-mail and I have my coffee, so I don't run, but you know, we do have spectacular views.)
My quinceaños was special. My white dress looked like wedding cake frosting and my frozen smile looked like a freakish doll in a horror movie.
(Kelly later explained: I had a Sweet Sixteen [party], but because I did come from a Puerto Rican family, I always wished that I had the fifteen-year one. The dress and the freakish smile, unfortunately, were true.)