9/11/2001 (the day of the 9/11 attacks) was my 30th birthday. Thirty is a pivotal age in people's lives. You aren't old, but you're young either. As a teenager I clearly thought, “If I’m ever thirty, the world will be a fucked up place.”
For better or worse, I nailed that one!
Let me set the scene…
Atlanta, September 10th around 6 PM: I'm mountain biking as it slowly turned to dusk. I was in the middle of breaking up with a girlfriend. She was hot, petite, very stylish, and barely ever raised her voice. Unbeknownst to me, she had developed a vicious speed habit. She wasn't the same girl I'd met just months before. She was making my life a living hell. In weeks earlier, she'd overdosed on Xanax, got in a hit-and-run, and tried to stab herself in my apartment. In the latter incident, she knocked a stone gargoyle off of my refrigerator and rendered herself unconscious.
At my advanced age and still a single man, I shouldn't be doling out relationship advice, but I will say this: If you're going to break up with someone, just be done! No “letting them down easy” or “it’s not you, it’s me” bullshit. Just break things off. You may seem like the asshole at first, but trying not to break a heart doesn't help anyone. Drop your jealousy, possessiveness and accept the fact relationships are like parking spaces: As soon as you pull out, someone else will be looking to pull in. They won't be lonely for long.
Stringing someone along makes them psycho. Here's proof…
That day, my cell phone rang relentlessly. I had over 50 missed calls. In 2001, cell phone batteries weren't as forgiving as they are today. I was riding close to her house, so I answered and (ignoring my own advice) told her I would come over.
Like an idiot I tell her “everything is going to be alright… blah, blah, blah”. She seems OK until I remind her I had to leave because it was getting dark and I was on my bike.
This is where everything goes sideways.
She becomes enraged, screaming, and throwing plates. So, I left and rode up the hill. It's around 8 PM and the sun was setting. I sense headlights behind me, turn my head, and see her face peering from behind the steering wheel as SHE RUNS ME OVER WITH HER CAR!!!
Fortunately, she knocked the bike out from underneath me, I spider-webbed her windshield and wound up behind the car on the ground.
As I lay in the street, trying to her account for all of my limbs, the reverse lights light up and now SHE IS TRYING TO BACK OVER ME!!! I barely manage to roll out of harms way into the neighbor's front yard. I left my mountain bike for dead. Rather than face the perils of the street, I decided to make my way home by zigzagging from backyard to backyard.
I climb my first fence and immediately had a German Rottweiler gnawing off a chunk of my calf muscle.
Time to reconsider my plan.
The midnight hour was drawing near. Here I was at the predawn of my 30's: Bleeding, mangled, hiding in random people’s backyards, and getting eaten by dogs.
I wondered how my “more mature” 30s would be any different from the mayhem of my of 20s?
It was shortly after midnight of 9/11/2001 when finally made it back to my apartment. I planned to bandage up, take a shower, get some beers, and try to forget this ever happened. When I get to my building, she is at my door doodling with a crayon and a coloring book!
That is psycho!
I thought I could sneak past her, go inside, lock her out and flee out the back. Being the petite little girl, as soon as I cracked the door, she slips through and draws a pocketknife. Not knowing if it was intended for her or me, I tried to pry it from her hand. In pulling it away, the knife slices deep into my first finger and my thumb and then cuts up my arm. To this day, there is still a visible scar, which I had tattooed over to read “Scar #1.”
Now, my thumb just dangles from a piece of skin, as she runs into my bedroom and lays on my bed with her arms crossed.
I never involve law enforcement in anything, but this had gone too far. “I’ll call the cops if you don't stop this shit! I used to feel sorry for you, but I don’t anymore!”
“Go ahead. Call the cops!” She screams, “I will beat myself up and tell them you did it! Who are they going to believe? The 6'2 convicted felon on probation or a 90-pound girl?”
To be fair, this was a brilliant (yet devious) response to my threats. So, I spend the next five hours trying to “reason with her” just to get her out of my apartment. After hours of tense negotiations, I finally convinced her to leave as the sun was coming up.
She gets in her car begins a demolition derby in my parking lot. Not wanting more attention from my neighbors, I stop her, take her keys and drive her home.
When we arrived, she asks, “Baby, you are going to stay here with me tonight?” almost as if nothing ever happened.
Not to provoke another incident, I agree “Yeah, sure, but I have to pee.” In the bathroom, I open the window, crawled out, and high-tailed it to my friend's nearby apartment. By now, it's nearing 7 AM EST (about an hour and a half before the attacks), the sun was fully up, my cell phone is dead and (without notice) I'm knocking at my buddy's door looking like I'd just lost a fight to Anderson Silva.
“Dude can I crash on your couch for a couple of hours? I’ve had a fucked up night. I don't want to go back to my house, I'll explain later.”
“Yeah, sure man.” and lets me in.
I lay down, exhausted, and barely fall asleep when I'm awakened by, “HOLY SHIT – THEY JUST FLEW A PLANE INTO THE TWIN TOWER!!” – then watched on TV as a second plane hit, followed by the Pentagon.
Like many people, 9/11 was one of the most fucked up days of my life – I'd been run over, stabbed, gnawed by dogs, held hostage in my home, and our country was now changed forever.
Maybe I was right as a teenager?
I was now 30 and the world was a fucked up place!
That was my 9/11.