9/11: Celebrate Life

Below is a note I wrote years ago; it is my recollection of the morning of September 11, 2001. It is a reminder.
~ NJ

September 11, 2001 – My father was at a meeting in the Pentagon that morning. I was a restaurant manager and was preparing to open a restaurant in Virginia, right outside of Washington, DC.

I watched the planes hit the Towers.
No one was crossing the bridges between VA and DC – they had been locked down. There were a lot of people who called out for their front of house and back of house shifts at the restaurant. All the offices around the restaurant were ordering food for take out. We were incredibly busy. I was working behind the line to cover for someone who hadn’t come in.

I heard about the plane hit the Pentagon.Dad & Me.
He wasn’t answering his cell phone. I called my father’s office. No one there could tell me where he was. All they could tell me was what I already knew – that he had a meeting at the Pentagon that morning. I asked them to have him call me if they heard from him. I gave them my cell phone number in case they didn’t.

When a call came from his office number, I left the line – shaking. He had been in a cab leaving the meeting when the plane hit. His cell service had been jammed.

He was alive.
I am remembering the incredible things that are a part of my life – friends, family, the ability to affect change in my life, the opportunity (with a little effort) to make my part of the world just a little better.

Today I celebrate life. I plan to again tomorrow too.

Why Trader Joe’s Coming to Austin Matters

Well, I guess it would be more fair to say: Why Trader Joe’s Coming to Austin Matters to Me.

It is nostalgia. Trader Joe’s brings forth memories of time spent with my dad… weekends… the introduction to great beer options… the first place where I could get really good food and try new things… Trader Joe’s was the candy store of grocery stores. And it’s the only place people should be allowed to wear Hawaiian shirts without irony.

I grew up going to Trader Joe’s in Southern California. My dad and I would play tennis on Saturday mornings and then wander their beer section before going to the hardware store. At that time, in 19(cough!), Trader Joe’s was one of the few stores that had a truly eclectic selection of beers. If this had not been a part of our routine, I may have entered adulthood thinking Coors Light and Miller High Life were actually beer.

When I moved to Washington, DC Trader Joe’s came to Alexandria, VA. It was in the bottom level of the building where my dad worked – I sometimes wonder if he chose the building specifically because they were there. I would drive out to Alexandria to have happy hour with him. We would wander to the store, pick out a beer we’d never had, and sit on the patio.

When I visited California to drive a car back to DC, one of my best friends, her young daughter, and I went to Trader Joe’s to stock my car for the trip. Brooke’s daughter was very young and the two of them played a game of spotting the lemurs throughout the store. It was a genius game Brooke had started. While her daughter was happily engaged in searching out the many lemurs that resided in the store’s “decor” she and I talked about… um… I don’t remember, but it was fun. Trader Joe’s played a role in another one of my favorite memories – time with my friend and her daughter.

When I first decided to move to Austin, I joked that I couldn’t move here as there was no Trader Joe’s. So, Trader Joe’s coming to Austin matters to me… I have an irrational affection for the store – it represents family to me. And I am home, so I like that Trader Joe’s finally arrived.

Truthfully, I will probably not shop a lot there, I suspect by the time it arrives, I will try to avoid downtown. There are too many infrastructure problems, but that’s a post for another time.