I woke up early. I was trying to wake up early because I was trying to keep a routine. I felt rudderless; not working and having no luck finding anything I liked. I felt rotten about everything, yet was trying to stay positive. I wasn't sure what I was going to do next, but I did know that I had to keep on trying, keep on plugging. So I set my alarm for five thirty, and I remember being in that half asleep half awake state. I was thinking of the night before when I watched Ally McBeal, she wasn't as irritating as usual, plus they had a singer I wanted to check out named Josh Groban who had the most amazing voice.
I was nodding off around sixish, the radio was on. Newscaster Chris Bruney came on, saying something happened in New York, a plane ran into the Twin Towers. I thought God, is this because air traffic controllers weren't doing their jobs? Or budget cuts from the Reagan years? Then I also thought oh man, As The World Turns will be prempted. I really thought that. And then Larry Bensky came on. Apparently he ran from his place in berkeley when he heard the news on TV and started reporting with Chris Bruney. Another plane hit the second tower. This is when I sat up. This wasn't air traffic controllers not doing their jobs. This was scary. This was frightening.
I just remember for days I felt dazed. So absolutely dazed. It took me years to realize why it hit me so hard: So many who died were at work, or if they were on the planes on their way home from a business trip, or on their way to a business trip. Work was many things: boring, maddening, enriching, crazy, but you never expect a plane to crash in your building, and then you have to decide to run. And run. And run. But you might not be fast enough. And you call your family, trying to find them. If you were lucky you got them, but if you were like me, your phone might've had a weird signal. And you keep on running, and running.
Three days later I went to Berkeley. It was a relief that Berkeley hadn't changed; hippies on the street talking, selling bumper stickers. I went to Mars, a thrift store near Amoeba. I walked in, looking at clothes, when I saw the star wand.
The star wand had silver glitter, sitting on the counter with other star wands. I looked at it. In the midst of everything, there were star wands. It reminded me of Fairy Godmother's wand from Cinderella. Bing! Cinderella had a beautiful gown. Bing! The mice became footmen. Bing! A pumpkin turned into a carriage. All the while Fairy Godmother sang "Bibbity Bobbity Boo." I bought it right away, then carried it with me on the bus and meeting friends in Walnut Creek.
I couldn't fix everything with my star wand. Life doesn't work like that. I wish it did. Believe you me, my life would be easier. I'm guessing everyone's lives would be easier. But then there would be no challenges, no problems. Like it or not, challenges and problems show us what we're made of. As Pat told her stepdaughter Janine on Eastenders "It's not about what happens to you. It's about who you are." I love this quote so much I used it as the epigraph in Take What You Got And Fly With It.
I've been through a lot the past eleven years. It hasn't always been easy. Yet it's like those early morning thoughts so long ago: You have to keep plugging. Keep going.
The star wand is on my window sill. It still glitters, after all these years.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries