This weekend has undoubtedly been filled with thoughts, prayers, memorials, and flashbacks of the events of September 11, 2001. I’m no different, but in the last nine years, this weekend has had an array of perspective casting memories and thoughts that beg to be written.
September 10, 2010 would have been my 5th anniversary…if I had stayed with her and in Virginia Beach and got married like we planned to. I didn’t come to this realization in a desire for that life. I came to it as a watermark of perspective. My engagement in 2004 came the day after I separated from US Navy, Sept. 20, 2004. Needless to say, we broke up, and I moved back to Northern California in the Spring of 2005. In the last five and a half years that I’ve been back here, I’ve worked, drank, loved, lost, and learned. I’m now in my final year of my undergraduate program at CSU Long Beach, living with my beautiful, smart, driven, lovely, (I could really go on for a while) girlfriend and much happier than I (thought I) was with Alison and her daughter Anna back on the east coast. There is still much I miss about Virginia Beach, and I will probably always call it home,
but I’m so glad that didn’t just celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary this past week.
I transferred duty stations from Naval Training Center (NTC), Great Lakes, Illinois to Goose Creek, South Carolina in January of 2000. Having finished boot camp not too long ago, my training at NNPTC (Naval Nuclear Power Training Command) was set to begin. It consisted of three parts: six months of Electrician’s Mate “A” School, six months of Nuclear Powers School, and six months of Prototype training. That year and a half in South Carolina was absolutely amazing, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Myrtle Beach, all over the place in the humid south. On September 7, 2001, my class graduated from prototype and we received our orders to o
ur respective duty stations. Some of us volunteered to go subs, some carriers, a couple retained to stay in the educational pipeline and teach, and many others off to bases around the world.
My silver, four-door ’95 Ford Escort was packed with all my clothes and I was driving back to California for a month of well-deserved leave before I reported to the (now decommissioned) SSN-709, USS Hyman G Rickover, Los Angeles Class submarine. I followed my fellow newly-graduated nuke, Josh, and his then girlfriend Belinda to Abilene, Texas, where they were from to have some company on the road. We made a stop in Nebraska, and stopped on the side of the road somewhere else in Texas for the worst rain storm I’ve ever seen (apart from a hurricane) before we made it there. With my final destination being Antioch, CA, I went on and made it back to the 925, which actually may have still been 510 at that point, the night of September tenth. It had been more than a year since I had seen my best friend of over six years, and I had called her along the way, telling her that I would stop to see her first before I went home to my parents’ house. Driving up Wildhorse to her house I wore a white tank top, navy blue (surprise!) board shorts, and a Corona visor (also navy blue) and was definitely funky from sitting in the
car for over twelve hours to make it home in that last push. Excited as anyone else would be to see their childhood best friend after 1) such a long absence and 2) after such a great accomplishment as graduating from Nuke School, I rang the doorbell and stood their agitated and impatient to see her. Her sister opened the door with her mother not too far behind, and they welcomed me in, telling me she was in her room upstairs.
You know that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Belle comes down the grand staircase in that golden ballgown? That’s what she looked like to me. Wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of black umbro soccer shorts, she descended the stairs in her home and I was able to hold my closest family member once again. She was still in high school, just having started her final year at Deer Valley Hig
h School, and she was as busy as I was at DVHS, if not more. Actually, she was probably always busier than I, as that’s just the way she was. We sat and talked in her room and caught up and it’s one of my fondest memories of her. Ten years ago, that was, and it’s still as vivid a memory as if it happened last week. Fortunately, I got to see her again before she suddenly passed in 2006, but that evening of September 10, 2001 will always be with me.
Angelina Rose Malfitano (12/12/83-5/30/06) Continue watching over us, please and thank you forever.
The very next morning, after sleeping in, my mother told me to come downstairs and watch the television. The next few moments were a blur, and all I could think of was…I just graduated from school, I have orders to a boat, and I have a month of leave…will I be called in early? What about my fellow sailors who went home to that part of the country? I called my buddy Andy who was from Boston, and he saw the smoke bleeding from the Pentagon on his way home.
I did not get called early because the boat I was assigned to was a special operations boat that wasn’t attached to a battle group. I never went to the middle east, but my affiliation with the armed services made me the immediate sounding board for everyone that I came in contact with while I was in the east bay for those next three weeks.
Over nine years have passed since the events of the World Trade Center crashes. Songs have been sung, movies made, documentaries spun, the list goes on. It has become commercialized, idolized, covered up, and stretched in many ways. I take this opportunity to celebrate that fact that I’m here. I helped a friend move into her new apartment this morning. I saw a friend from Northern California at Downtown Disney tonight, and I snuck in some theatre today with the closing night of a local play festival. September 11, 2010 has officially passed, and now in the early hour of September 12th, I will go to sleep alive and happy. Cherishing what I have now and have had before. I look forward to what I will and what I cannot forsee. This is about celebration for me and knowing that no matter what happens at any point during the year, not just early September, I will always have a guardian angel.