Tuesday, September 11, was an unusual day for a picnic; but, the weather was so warm for this time of year- almost seemed like summer again, I remember it well. I went to my friends Jamey’s house to go with her family to the park for a picnic. Jamey was always mad at her dad, this day was no acceptation, she had a giant chip on her shoulders you could see it in her behavior, the way she rolled her eyes, her frown on her face told you all you needed to know, no hiding her feelings. I could not understand her reasoning, why she was always so dramatic with him.
When I arrived I was thinking this was going to be a great day no matter what happened with Jamey and her dad. I thought to myself, she has no idea how fortunate she is- my father is never around, and when he is all we do is argue about his drinking and drug abuse. Although, I was a little uncomfortable in the house while they were getting things ready to leave, I made the most of it. I secretly wished Jamey’s dad was my father.
I went to use the bathroom, as I was walking through the kitchen, I noticed her dad in the living room; Jamey stayed in her room, so the house was quiet, I heard her father talking to someone on the phone, I stopped and listened as I heard him say he could not understand why Jamey was so angry all the time, he continued on with the conversation, wondering what did he do to deserve such an angry daughter? My heart skipped a beat; hearing the pain in his voice as he spoke to whoever was on the other end of the line. When I was finished in the bathroom, I went back to Jamey’s room and asked her what I could do to help her. She asked me to help her load the picnic supplies that were in the kitchen into the van. Mr. Jones was already packing the items needed in the basket, sandwiches they had made, chips, cookies, napkins, and drinks. As I watched Jamey interact with her father, I felt really sorry for him. How was he supposed to know why she was mad all the time? Mr. Jones said he had to grab a few things, and asked if we had jackets to wear in case the weather got cold. I told him I brought one, its in Jamey’s room, he told us to get them.
I went into Jamey's room, she followed me in, we sat on her bed, Jamey sat next to me, I asked her why she was mad? She looked at me and began to cry, because he never pays attention to me. I thought to myself- wow, that’s a little dramatic, and then I began to really listen as she explained her feelings. As she talked, I still could not help but feel sorry for Mr. Jones, here he is a single father, a widower, works full time as a police officer, attends all her school functions, has no social life of his own- he wraps his life around his daughters, both of them and has no idea she feels this way- how could he?
I asked Jamey if she had talked to him about her feelings? She said no! He is not interested, does not have time for her. As she was finishing up her thoughts, my mind began to wonder, I thought about his conversation he had on the phone that I overheard, prompting me to ask her how he would know she was mad? She said: it's his fault, he always assumes I am going to be happy about his family dates, he beer ask me how I feel and what I want, and I am not about to tell him any differently. He should know why I am angry- it's his fault, if he just paid attention! Jamey confused me, she said she has not told him how she feels- but yet, she blames him for not being sensitive to her needs. We picked up our jackets and went to get in the van- we both jumped in the back seat. We would pick up Jamey’s sister Jenny, downtown at New York University, she would set in the front seat. Jenny was attending NYU to become a social worker.
My question rolling in my mind is how could Jamey be so selfish in her feelings- when both family members were all about helping others. Why was Jamey so self- absorbed? What was it that caused he to be stuck inside herself? What could I do to help her? The ride to NYU was quiet- it was early, we wanted to get n early start, downtown Manhattan could be really crowded any day of the week. If we wanted a good parking spot close to Central Park we had to arrive at the crack of dawn practically.
Jenny was a Resident Advisor in the Clark Street Dorms, in Brooklyn Heights. The dorms are located in the beautiful Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, Clark Street, a recently renovated building formerly known as St George Hotel, built between 1890-1930, absolutely beautiful historic buildings all around and just one block from the 2/3 train Clark Street stop and one subway stop away from the Financial District. This is how Jenny usually got around the city. However- today we were picking her up. Jenny was waiting for us as we pulled up. She hopped in the front seat of the van- greeting everyone as she bucked up. Jenny was so different that Jamey- she was happy, friendly, and genuinely interested in what everyone was doing. As Jenny and her father chatted, Jamey sat listening to her music through head phones. I sat quietly looking out the windows at the beautiful sky. The weather was exceptionally beautiful, clear skies you could see for what seemed like miles. As I sat in my seat looking out the windows, I saw a shadow hover above- I looked up to see a large airplane flying way to low. I said hey Mr. Jones, look at that airplane, its way too low- something must be wrong. He quickly pulled over and stopped the van. All of a sudden the plane disappeared ahead we looked and saw smoke. Jamey stopped listening to her head phones and looked at us with pondering eyes as she asked why we stopped. Her fathers face- I will never forget it- he looked shocked, absolutely perplexed. He said we have to get out of here. All of a sudden we see people running, chaos everywhere as people are running, screaming, crying. We start to turn around and drive away- we see cars stopped- people staring, people confused, firemen running, Mr. Jones gets a phone call. He stops that van, answers the call, and tells Jenny he has to go. He is needed, he asks her to drive to his mothers house in Rochester NY, they will be safe there. He said move fast, don’t stop until you get there, we will stay connected via the phones. As we left him- we saw another plane flying low- we were living a nightmare. Jamey was in shock and screaming “Jenny we can’t leave him here.” Jenny said Jamey pull yourself together- dad will be ok, he has to help people- we are safe, we are going to grandmas. He will call us. we are about 8 hours from grandmas, we will call him as soon as we get there. We need to pray for dad, and everyone. We turned the tv on in the van to listen to the news. The news was talking about a third plane, and maybe more. We were so afraid- this seemed to be an act of violence, a bomb or hijacking planes by terrorist.
We made it to her grandmas house in Rochester, NY. All communication in downtown Manhattan was lost. All air traffic was grounded, no one in our out of the city- we escaped in the nick of time. Grandma Jones had dinner for us- we were all hungry, but all we wanted was a hug from grandma, some warm cookies and a hot shower. Grandma already had clothing laid out for each of us. She went to JC Penny’s and bought us clean underclothes, pajamas and a clean outfit, she was just the kindest grandmother I had ever met.
After we showered and ate our dinner, we all sat down to watch the news- NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox- all the networks played the scene over and over again. I could not help but think about our lives flashing before us as I looked at the carnage on the tv, if Jenny had not been ready, would we have been approaching the area just as the planes hit? Would we have been in the midst of all that rubble? What if I had not seen the shadow of the plane, would Mr. Jones have taken his call on his day of? What if he had not pulled over what he had kept driving?
Jamey was quiet all night, no one could get her to talk- not even me, her best friend. I wondered what Jamey was thinking about, I knew what I was thinking about- my mom, my siblings. What were they doing? Thankful that we called before the cell lines died- I knew they were safe and they knew we were headed to Rochester. At least we could all sleep tonight- except for Jamey...she was so sad that she had been so mean to her dad and unwilling to make a change to see his perspective. She would do anything to change her situation.