Own Private September 11th
By Susan Isaacs
of us remember exactly what we were doing on September 11, the moment
the planes hit the World Trade Center. Well, if you were in L.A.,
you were still asleep. I was an actor in New York; I was also still
asleep. What's hard for me to remember is what I was doing the weekend
before. Not because I can't, but because the details could have
haunted me for the rest of my life.
weekend before 9/11, I went on vacation to Miami with my boyfriend
of one year. Neither Jack nor I had dated anyone that long, so we
decided to celebrate: go somewhere new, lounge on a beach, watch
Cuban men play dominoes. And we could stop arguing.
blamed our arguments on us both being competitive. I blamed them
on him being an ass. Jack was critical and controlling; but he was
also thoughtful and sensitive, and really hot. And I thought a weekend
away could help him relax and get back to being the thoughtful,
sensitive, hot guy he was when we first met.
took care of everything. He bought us a cheap, non-refundable airline
and hotel package on Expedia. He wouldn't even let me get the rental
car. Not because he didn't want me to pay for anything but because,
in his words, "I don't want you to screw anything up!"
secretly pleased when the hotel in Miami turned out to be a dump.
It was a 1980s concrete block, built on top of a shopping center
that had shut down some time after Miami Vice got cancelled.
You could stare over the hotel balcony down into the abandoned mall.
A cement disk sat where a carousel had been yanked out. A busted
sign read "Miami Moment's." With an apostrophe. There
was nothing left but concrete and echoes. And there was nothing
left at the hotel, except a bankruptcy seminar, a Landmark Forum
meeting, and suckers who booked through Expedia.com.
room was decorated in pressboard and pastel and smelled of Lysol
and B.O. "They say we have a water view," Jack said as
he opened the drapes. It was a view of the retaining wall of the
bridge that went to Miami Beach. Jack shrugged. "Well, at least
we're freeway close."
we exercise our logistical privilege and take the bridge to South
Beach. We slogged through the humidity, past art deco hotels and
tourists taking pictures of the place where Versace got shot. We
sought relief in an air-conditioned restaurant. Not that it was
going to be relaxing. Jack was hyper-vigilant about restaurants.
He only sat in far corner booths, back to the wall, eyes to the
door, like he was in the witness protection program. And he was
get the omelet," Jack whispered nervously. "Get a salad
and we'll share."
how about the Turkey Cobb Ranch?" I suggested.
huffed. "I hate cheese. I hate things that are creamy. I like
things that are clear."
they don't make clear meat."
I'm having a hard time relaxing," he pleaded.
I get that."
you don't!" I followed Jack's eyes. A group of gay men clucked
simmered. "I feel like a piece of meat."
you're my piece of meat," I kissed him.
jumped up. "Let's get out of here."
there wasn't anywhere to go. Outside it was hot and muggy, and inside
there was little to do if you weren't into drugs or bars. So, we
got cranky and fought: over the way I drove the car, over who should
reload the camera, over whether it was OK for me to answer my cell
is a vacation," Jack growled. "You're not supposed to
talk to other people!"
that an Expedia rule?" I growled back.
you need to talk to your friends, maybe we shouldn't have come."
we shouldn't. Maybe we shouldn't be dating!"
was silent. I almost felt bad for saying it.
just want to feel important in your life."
you are important. I haven't gone on a vacation with a guy, ever.
I haven't had a weekend with a girl friend since we started dating."
say that like it's a bad thing."
exhausted, and we'd only been there 24 hours.
a nap and woke up to three-dozen Gerber daisies on the pressboard
nightstand. Jack sat on the bed and touched my face. "Dinner
on me. Anywhere you like."
took me to a really nice seafood restaurant with a real nice water
view. He bought me a nice salmon dinner. Which we shared. It was
lovely. Until the waiter brought us the key lime pie.
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