Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?
I found a nickel on the floor of my living room but couldn’t for the life of me find a year printed on the coin. I also got a nickel in the mail yesterday and couldn’t find a year printed on that either. Could it be that years are not printed on nickels, or am I just stupid about finding the year on nickels? At any rate, nickels did not work out for this project. So I reached into my wallet and grabbed the first coin that came into my hot little hands. It was a dime. The year printed on it was 2001. That was a momentous year.
The year 2001 was the year that I had taken a leave of absence from work due to severe chronic depression and severe migraine headaches. While I was at home recuperating, seeing my psychiatrist and therapist each once a week, on September 11, 2001, two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City and one plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, all hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists. The world was in shock and so was I. I knew people who died in the Towers. It was all surreal. I went to a prayer vigil at my church that night and wrote the names of the people I knew on a slip of paper and we prayed for them that night and hugged and cried. My husband was no help to me at all. My daughter was let go from college early and picked up her children from Head Start when it was over and brought them home and let them watch movies so they wouldn’t see the news reports. She didn’t want to expose them to the horror of it all.
Just four short weeks later, as part of my therapy, I went on a trip to Europe, to a cruise through the Mediterranean countries. I was well enough to go and it put to rest a long-held resentment of my mother who had prevented me from going on a trip to Italy with my senior high school class many years before. I flew from San Antonio to Dallas-Fort Worth, from there to JFK in New York where security was very tight, then took an Air Iberia flight to Barcelona, Spain to catch the cruise ship. From there we went to Monaco; Florence,one of the cities I really wanted to see with its Uffizi museum and the staute of Davis; Naples, where I took a tour and visited Pompeii and Herculaneum (I am fond on archaeology); then we were at sea for a day and a half as we sailed for Venice; we stayed there for two days and I visited the island for Murano, famed for its blown glassware and I bought beautiful glassware in Venice and rode in a gondola and fed the pigeons in San Marco’s Square; on to Croatia, which was still recovering from its war with Serbia and Bosnia, so sad; then on to Sicily with its volcano; and Rome, where we saw the Sistine Chapel and saw the Coliseum and the Forum and the Circus Maximus and ate at a splendid restaurant across the street from the American Embassy; then a turbulent night at sea and on to Marseille and Avignon, the Palace of the Popes in France, where we had a wine tasting and a lovely lunch of paté and baguettes and chicken and could order Chateau Neuf de Papes wine to be sent to our homes, and finally back to Barcelona, where I spent an extra day and took a city tour to city the city of Gaudì and La Sagrada Familia. I bought a book in French about Gaudì since I could read French and they had no English copies. I toured the Gothic cathedral across the street from my hotel where Columbus made his report to Ferdinand and Isabella about the New World. I bought a baby blue leather jacket in the shops on the main shopping district. I fell in love with Barcelona, just as I had fallen in love with Florence and Avignon. My therapy was a success. My demons were avenged. I had made my trip to Europe on my own, despite what my mother had said all those years ago.
So that’s what I was doing all those years ago, in 2001, the year printed on the old dime in my purse. I was horrified by the events of 9/11 and I exorcised my demons by going to Europe. But I still had severe chronic depression and anxiety issues and needed to change jobs, which I did at the end of 2001. I found a different job when my leave of absence was up and moved to Austin, Texas during the week and came home to Pipe Creek, Texas on the weekend. That was the beginning of the end of my marriage, but that for another year and another story.