10 Years Ago

Do you remember where you were 10 years ago? Today is the tragic anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. As I write this, services have already been conducted in England. I was reminded of where I was 10 years ago, and the things that followed since.

I gotta say — it’s been a very interesting decade. I definitely could not have predicted the things I’ve seen and done, or where I’d have ended up.

Ten years ago, I was on a cross-Canada trip with my friend Gerry, having departed Calgary the day before (heading west) after helping move our friends Stuart and Therese. We’d decided to go through Kelowna on our way to Vancouver, stopping by to visit my Uncle David and Aunt Alaine.

That night, Gerry and I had slept in the van we were driving, as my aunt and uncle already had visitors. As I walked into the house the next morning, the TV blared the news: Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed had been killed in a high-speed crash in Paris.

My aunt was glued to the TV, and soon so was I. There are those little events that rock your world, and this was one of them.

Gerry and I were listening a lot to the CBC as we drove — it’s one of the few radio stations that you can receive virtually anywhere in Canada (given, different frequencies, but usually the same content). Most of the commentary and talk radio shows focused on Diana’s achievements, what had happened and who was to blame, and whether or not Diana actually achieved all that attention.

One of the sad ironies of all this was a few days later, on 5 September 1997. Gerry and I were crossing through the Prairies, listening to more arguments on the airwaves. One of the commentators said, and this is a paraphrase (it has been 10 years, after all):

Look at all the fuss over Diana. She didn’t change the world. Imagine what it’s going to be like when Mother Theresa dies!

No less than 10 minutes later, one of the other commentators on the show was apparently handed a piece of paper.

Uh… ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just learned that Mother Theresa has died.

Not many people remember this. Diana overshadowed Theresa entirely. The media focused on the glitz and glamour, and made the truly super-human efforts a mere footnote.

Ten years ago, I was a very different person. And a lot has changed since then. The trip 10 years ago set the groundwork for me to leave Southern Ontario and live elsewhere. It set me on a new career path, and led to the job I now have. It sent me to far-flung corners of the Earth, as we as crossing my own country. It taught me a lot about myself. It gave me a family.

Can you think back? What has happened to you in the last 10 years?

11 Replies to “10 Years Ago”

  1. I’ll one up you a bit… 16 years ago today, I was all excited about starting on my glorious adventure as a university student. I was coming from a small town of less than a 1000 people; it was a bit of shock to see live in a residence that more than doubled that number.

    And just think, 16 years ago plus 2 more days, you had the (mis)fortune of rooming beside some big guy from a small town and a skinny guy from a big town. If I remember, a certain little game called “Monkey’s Island” helped with the introductions…

  2. Wow Geoff, what hasn’t happened in the last 10 years. 10 years ago today I was single and a long haul truck driver with my own Peterbilt and refer trailer. Nine years ago, to the day on Sept. 10th, I contracted SDS (Sudden Deceleration Syndrome) which changed my life forever. Since then I’ve changed into a career that I should have been in back in University, got married, had twin boys (well, I didn’t, my wife did – after seeing what she had to go through I’m glad men don’t give birth!) and now work from home contracting to a company in London UK. Gotta admit, life is good now πŸ™‚

  3. In the last 10 years ago it would have been hard to imagine the Geoff I knew then in the life he is in now, but then again, that goes for me, too. In the spirit of Robert Frost’s poem, I’m glad I took the path less travelled.

    Do you suppose because of the little one that the next 10 years will be somehow more predictable that the last ten? By the way, congrats!

    I don’t remember where I was when Diana died, but I do remember where I was when the Challenger blew up, and when 9/11 happened. Do you have any other such moments etched in your memory?

  4. 10 years ago I was working in Student Housing at Carleton University. I remember I was in the Fenn Lounge watching “Star Trek: First Contact” when someone came in and yelled ‘Diana is dead’ and then immediately left again. At the time I didn’t know what they were talking about but when I got back to my apartment I very quickly realized what had happened. I stayed glued to the TV for quite some time late into that night/morning.

    Since then I have worked at three other universities in six other jobs, sung in six different choirs, performed on stage with some of my musical heroes, moved to the UK and managed to remain childless – which, for me, is a good thing. That’s not to mention the incredible journey I have taken to become the woman I am today and hope to become in the future. I like myself now in a way I never have before and life keeps getting better. I am a better human being now. Whoever said that highschool or university is the best time of your life is full of crap! I love my thirties and I’m excited for my forties and beyond.

    That’s the short synopsis of the last ten years of my life.

    Also – and this really is the more important point – a HUGE congrats to you and Alex on the arrival of Baby Sowrey. I’m really happy for you, Geoff. Well done all around!

  5. When I first heard that Diana had been injured in an accident, I was heading west on Bow Trail, about to head on to Crowchild going north. I had been at MEC shopping for an upcoming caming trip (which seemed rather insignificant after that). The first announcement made it sound like a routine traffic accident – nothing to dire. We were at home watching CNN when it was announced that she was dead.

    Since then – went from working for a small company to a HUGE multinational (small one was sold). Got laid off, took a year off, had knee surgery, started working on contract, lost both parents and both in-laws, acquired another dog (now have 2), renovated, re-developed my passion for photograhy and embraced the digital age, traveled, watched my God children grow from babies to almost teenagers – and most importantly, went through some difficult times and found light on the other side. I’m more patient, more compassionate.

    And – I do remember that Mother Teresa died that summer too – although I don’t remember where I was when I heard about that πŸ™‚

  6. Other events etched in ye olde noggin include (but are not limited to): 9/11 (where were you the moment you found out, and how did you find out?), Challenger exploding and Columbia breaking up on re-entry, the morning my father died, and the day that the first Iraq War started. And my child’s birth, of course. πŸ˜‰

    Oddly enough, though, I have no specific memory of things like Pope John Paul II’s death, Mount St. Helens’ eruption, or the London Bombings. Curious, eh?

  7. And I have to say that while high school and university posed a number of challenges for me, I do not regret those times (or any times, for that matter). Most of my best and closest friends are from high school and university. And no matter how far away they might live from me now, it makes them no less important to me. I wouldn’t have met them any other way.

  8. I’ll jump in and mention how I remember certain events that you mentioned, Geoff.

    First, 9/11. I wasn’t due to be at work until 10am that day at Critical Mass. I had spent a quiet morning at home electing not to turn on the television or radio and puttered about before having to leave to catch the bus to get to work. The first person to tell me about it was Dewi, and as I entered the gates he asked if I heard about what happened in New York. He said that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Centre Buildings. I said, “Sure Dewi, whatever.” He then said that one had crashed into the Pentagon as well. That’s when I said, “Now I know you’re full of it Dewi. What movie did you watch?” Which is when he said to me, “Why do you think we’re all out here in the parking lot listening to the news on the radio from the company vehicle?” That’s when I noticed a lot of fellow CM’ers listening and looking a bit bewildered.

    I remember the day my Mom died as it happened to be the same day that the Oklahoma City bombing occured. Very unsettling day for sure.

    As for Mount St. Helens, I happened to be in Spokane, Washington for a long weekend when it happened. I remember that it was a sunny day, quite bright. We were having lunch when we noticed that it seemed like night was falling very, very fast. The ash in the air had completely blocked out the sun and everything was covered in grey talcom powder – like ash. We were stranded in Spokane for 4 or 5 extra days. If we went outside at all we had to wear dust masks so we wouldn’t inhale too much ash. We collected some to bring home with us. On the drive home, I remember my dad had to change the air filter in the car at least four times before we hit the Canada/US border. It was pretty exciting for little five-year-old me!

  9. First Gulf war – the news was being broadcast on the PA system at the Nepean sportsplex and I first heard about it when we all went into the change room after an aerobics class.

    9/11 – was lying in bed listening to the news when the first plane hit, and my first thought was what a horrible accident. I got up and put on CNN and saw the second plane hit and knew that something else was going on. I went in to work (Schlumberger in the old Merak building) and hardly anyone was around. I eventually found a huge (and very silent) crowd around a large television. My manager called from Houston mid-morning to say that their office was being shut down and they were being sent home. Given the amount of work that didn’t get done – they might as well have done that in Calgary too. One of my co-workers spent several days in California waiting for flights to resume so he could come home.

    Mount St Helens – I didn’t hear about it until much later in the day – as I was working on my suntan at the Sandbanks with some friends. I did have a friend in university who lived in Nanaimo BC, and they heard the blast there.

  10. Oh hey — I forgot one!

    The tsunami in Indonesia. I was in Ontario that Christmas, and heard about the tsunami, but didn’t think much of it at the time. When I realised what the impact was (days later), I felt pretty bad about it.

  11. We were visiting friends in Vancouver for Christmas in 2004. At some point boxing day afternoon, I borrowed one of their computers to check my email and saw the headline about the tsunami – at the time there were

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