9/11 as seen from Hawaii…

Date Submitted: 09/11/2011
Author Info: Charles (Bud) (Bend, OR - USA) 
Occupation: Manufacturing/Supply
Lived in NY on 9.11.01?: No
Knew someone who perished?: No

When 9/11 happened, I was “living the dream” on the island of Maui, surfing every day and holding down a decent paying hotel job. Although part of the U.S., often the islands felt a world away from the happenings “on the mainland”….life was slow and dreamy, the waves were great, money was adequate enough to live a quite comfortable island style life…surf shorts and slippahz were the norm when not in work garb.
Hawaii is 5 hours behind eastern time…so we were some of the last in the US to learn of what had transpired. I woke to find my roommate drunk in front of the TV (as usual @ 9AM local time!)…but the images on the screen snapped me fully awake and right into a stunned daze. The implications only started to sink in as I arrived an hour later at my job (I was working as a hotel lunch waiter)…
Now remember, the Hawaiian islands are also just over 2500 miles from the US mainland, said to be the most remote island chain on earth…highly dependent upon civil aircraft transport. Now that entire infrastructure was suddenly and militarily grounded. Out on the grounds and in the restaurants, I looked into the stunned and scared eyes of tourists who were on vacation, suddenly stranded very, very far from home, no matter where they were from. The little regional Kapalua airport, up the mountain behind the string of coastline, was totally and eerily quiet…the Dash8 turboprop sounds that we were so used to hearing every 50 minutes or so gone…I had heard the last one land. This meant no inter-island traffic even. It was a unique feeling, to say the least, to realize just how very very far away we were, and how tenuous the links…
The days after that passed by in a muted blur for me…life on an island tends to do that. But the thoughts of that day, the feelings of being stranded and vulnerable, gestated in my psych. Coupled with what is known as “rock fever”, two years later I decided to move back to the mainland…
…which lead to a rather harsh awakening…I had not realized that the mainland had changed in many ways in my absence…due to 9/11. I had been living in a dream, really…far from large cities, insulated from the full reality of just how much the world had changed.

Often, even now…I wish I had not moved back.


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