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Are you craving a night of magical storytelling? Join us on Wednesday, January 27th, at seven thirty PM Eastern Standard Time as the Moth Mainstage presents around the bend journey into parts unknown with five storytellers as they share true tales of hazardous turns and joyous curves hosted by beloved moth storyteller and Moth podcast host Dame Wilbourne. Get your tickets now at the Moth Dogs virtual main stage. Compressed, this is the Moth Radio Hour. I'm Jennifer Higson. The moth is true stories told live often by people unaccustomed to addressing a room of a few hundred to over a thousand strangers.


But when the tellers take the stage and the audience quiets down, nervousness dissipates and the story takes over. In this hour, we'll hear four stories. A man is caught up in the life of a very famous 19th century poet. A woman travels to a spa in New Mexico where clothes are optional. A daughter tries to surprise her mom at the World Trade Center one September morning. And this first story about a ski slope and a superhero. Bobby Stoddard is a carpenter from Vermont.


He told this story for us at a show we presented in East Lansing, Michigan, in collaboration with Michigan Public Radio. Here's Bobby live at the mark. So I am from Vermont and I love living in Vermont, and in order to love living in Vermont, you you really need to love winter.


I'm guessing all of you feel the same way that I love everything about it. You know, the smell, the wood stove and but it's really the snow that makes it for me.


And my favorite winter in Vermont was 1999. It was a big snow year and I was a part time carpenter and a full time ski bum. And the other thing, other than being a big snow year that made that a really amazing year was our local ski mountain. Bolton Valley went bankrupt and Bolton Valley is at the top of a steep winding mountain road. And the only reason you would go up there is to go skiing. And if they're not running their lives, no one's going up there except for me and some of my friends, because we like to hike for it, because.


If you're if you love skiing, you love powder, powder is the church, and if powder's the church, then the Holy Grail is fresh tracks. And if you're hiking up an abandoned ski mountain, you're going to get fresh tracks all day. And we did. We got them all winter long. We would hike that mountain. And fresh tracks are when you ski down and nobody has skied in front of you, it's sublime. So I was up there one Saturday and I was actually just with just my dogs and I was alone and I hike the mountain and I got my turns and and I get down to the bottom of the mountain.


And between the bottom of the chairlift and the parking lot, there is a little gully.


And I'm just I want to maximize my vertical. So I just drop down into this gully and I spin around. So I'm facing up the mountain just to see how far back my dog, my dogs were. And I under my bindings and I and I look up and I see my dogs over here and then and I see something over here and it's it's a mother and a father and a little baby boy.


And they're about 100 yards up the mountain and they're playing with sleds. And I watch as the father takes this little 18 month old boy and set him in this little red plastic sled face first and slide him just, you know, about seven feet to the mother who bends down.


And I still don't know how she does it, but she she misses him. He goes right through her legs. And in an instant, this kid is rocketing down the mountain and the dad jumps in his sled and he talks, takes off after him, but he's never going to catch him. And this is a ski mountain. This is not a backyard hill. The kids flying down the mountain. As soon as I see him take off, I start running and I'm running in the direction that he's headed.


But as soon as I take that first step, I can no longer see him because I'm down in this gully and I can just barely see them over the lip of snow.


And as I'm charging through this gully, it's it's getting deeper and deeper and it's starting to approximate more of a ravine.


And I run to where I think this kid is headed, and I haven't seen him in a while, but I know he's still coming because I can hear his mother shrieking this primal scream, screaming, Parker, jump out, Parker.


Parker. And I look up and there's a steel pipe sticking out of the ground, it's a snowmaking pylon and now I'm sitting looking at this pipe and I'm waiting and I'm listening to this mother. And then all of a sudden there is this little kid who's clinging to the front of the sled, his little face, and he shoots off this cornice of snow and he misses that pipe by just an inch. His sled goes flying, he does it is a flip in the air and and I just catch him like right out of the air and.


And now we've got him and he's in my arms, I'm looking down at him, he's little and I'm like, hey, looks fun, you do him and he's just hourlies at me. And then the dad skids to a stop and the dad is agog because the parents never saw me.


They didn't see me snowboard down. They didn't see me start to run. He just saw his little guy just and he's staring at me and he says, Well, who are you?


And I just look up. I say, I'm Bobby. And he says, where did you come from? So, you know, I was just here and and then the mother shows up and she tumbles down through the snow and she comes up to me and I and I hand her Parker and and this woman clearly wants this baby.


And she takes the child and she just crumbles and she's wailing and crying.


And of course, now Parker is crying because she's crying. And I'm like, why isn't she soothing the kid?


Like, he was fine when I gave her a perfectly good baby and now he's crying. And I really can't even fathom why she's not like that. So the dad starts talking to me and he says something. He says, Bobby, do you read the Bible? I'm like, no, no.


This is what I read the Bible, and I don't believe that God does anything without a purpose, and I believe God put you here today to catch my son.


You know, and I'm not a big God guy, and but I don't know, someone says something like that to you, you know, you take stock and I started replaying it in sort of the magnitude of it. And then I look up and I look at that steel pipe coming out of the ground and I picture Parker's little face flying overhead.


And my whole world just goes into slow motion and all of my senses become amplified. My sense of smell and taste and hearing are just electrified. And I walk up to him and we're talking and I'm listening to oxygen, enter his lungs and come out of his lungs.


And I am feeling saliva coursed through my glands and I go to shake his hand and I can I can feel his fingerprints on my fingerprints and I get in my car and I'm driving and I'm watching raindrops explode in slow motion off my windshield.


And I'm smelling cigarettes in houses that are shut. Then they're 100 yards away.


And I'm like, yeah, yeah, this feels right. Like this is what it feels like when you find what you do. I tell what I do.


I catch babies, you know, like this is right. I'm a I'm a superhero. On, you know, I get I go out to a bar with my friends at night and I know how many exactly how many people are in that bar and when they came in and when they're leaving and I'm watching subtle nuances and body language around the room, I'm expecting a fight to break out. I'm on. So wake up the morning and I'm still there.


And that day I was flying out to visit my sister in Colorado and on the way to the airport, I am vigilant.


I'm looking for little old ladies in the road and runaway bikes with kids, bank robbers.


And I get on the airplane and we're flying. And a little ways into the flight, we encounter some turbulence. And it's that turbulence that's like no fun. Your butt is out of your seat and your gut is in your throat. And it's relentless and it's not stopping.


And the pilot's not telling us anything Ozzy's done is turned on the fasten your seat belt sign and the mood in the cabin is getting grim.


People are starting to moan a little. And I'm like. OK, game on, OK, I'm going to do something like but I'm not delusional, I don't think I'm going to stop the plane from crashing, but I'm going to do something like, all right, I'm going to I'm going to you know what I'm to do? I'm going to say just the right thing. I'm going to like I'm going to minister. I'm going to I'm going to look someone in the eyes and tell them that their love or won't hold someone's hand.


I'm like, but wait, how am I going to become like I'm crashing to.


And then it comes to me, I realize, like I could die today. You know, I've had I've had a great life. I've had varied and diverse lovers. I've had some sublime meals. I watch the sunrise from the top of Temple for and Tikal.


I caught a baby yesterday. And and it and it works, I'm calm, I'm I'm ready, and the flight was fine, nothing. We made it. It was fine. The turbulence just stopped and we were fine. So the next day at my sister's house, I noticed that all my superpowers had gone away. And and then it didn't take long for sort of this idea that I was out to save people. Also, it kind of went away.


But the one thing I kind of kept was this idea that I could I could die, you know, I could die today. I've had like I've had some great food. I've been to Guatemala and it kind of actually works for me. It's this little mantra. I pull it out when flights are funky or things are getting sketchy and.


Yeah, I just use it when I need it. So a few years ago, my wife gave birth to our daughter, Hazel, and a few months after that, I found myself on an airplane headed to California in a little ways into the flight.


We encountered some turbulence, like not a lot like a modicum of turbulence, you know, just enough to make you sort of look up from your book.


And so I do. I look up from my book and I reach for my mantra and it's gone.


And in its place is that feeling you get when you're on a precipice and someone jostles you, you know, in your life and your life passed in front of your eyes, except that it's not my life.


It's my daughter's life and it's complete. And it's got the highs and the lows and the first and the first time riding a bike, the first time skiing for some getting on the school bus. And there's grumpy teenage years. And and Randee, boyfriends that I have to contend with and graduations.


And I'm like, I can't talk right now. And I'm white knuckling it on the airplane. And then it comes to me like I'm not my life is really not just my life anymore.


It in large part belongs to this little person because, you know, as soon as you have a kid, you're you're vulnerable and they're so vulnerable without you, you need each other.


You know, and it feels good. Feels really good. And so now I'm starting to bliss out on this flight, and as I'm kicking back in my chair and sort of releasing my hands, the image of that mother clinging to her little baby on the side of that snowy mountain comes to me.


And I finally get it. It's this primal love that lays dormant in our most primitive self. And when it's triggered and unlocked, it just overwhelms us. And then I was thinking, now I know what my purpose is, now I know what's right for me. You know, in my tiny little daughter made me feel that way, she still does. That was Bobby Stoddard, Bobby is an avid skier and world traveler and dad, side note, Bobby is a national and world champion ultimate Frisbee player, which might explain his excellence in baby catching.


To see a picture of Bobby, visit our radio extras page at the morgue. While there, you can share any of the stories you're hearing on this hour with your friends and family were also on Facebook and Twitter at the most. In a moment, we'll hear about a man who's asked to make Edgar Allan Poe relevant to a melting pot neighborhood in the Bronx. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by PRICK'S.


This is the Moth Radio Hour from Pyrex. I'm Jennifer Higson from The Moth. Our next story comes from a show we did on the island of Nantucket. The theme was Walk the Line. Here's Matt Mercier live at the loft on Nantucket. So I'm sitting in Dempsey's pub on the Bowery in New York. Drowning my sorrows in a pint of Guinness. I've just lost both my jobs, the rent is due yesterday, I have credit card debt and student loans piled to the ceiling.


Not one job prospect on the horizon until my friend turns me is like I might have the solution to your problems.


Do you want free rent for the rest of your life in New York?


I'm kidding you. What do I have to do to get that?


It's like, well, you do have to live in the Bronx, way up on the Grand Concourse, like, oh, it's a long 45 minute commute away from anything. I don't know what else. Well, it's a basement apartment.


It doesn't get much light. I was like, all right, I'm paying twelve hundred dollars a month for that privilege in Queens. Oh, what else?


Well, the big commitment is on the weekends. The house is a historical house and the apartment is in the basement. The museum is on top and you give tours on the weekends.


You're the caretaker and the docent. That's how I get the free rent. And by this time he said free rent, enough that it's sunk in. I'm like free rent in New York. This is the unicorn of real estate. Why am I. Yeah, I'll do it.


Sign up. I'll do it. He's like, oh, hold on. One more detail.


You have to be well-adjusted to live in this house by yourself because you see it once belonged to Edgar Allan Poe.


He said, you get it.


It's not just any basement. It's Poes basement. It's it's melancholy squared. It's really sad.


And these facts may have scared away a more well-adjusted person, but I am desperate and penniless and maybe just a teensy bit depressed. So in other words, it's perfect.


Like this is it? I want to sign me up.


So he arranges an interview and I think like most of us, I hadn't read post since high school. I associate him with Vincent Price and Apes with razor blades and Ravens.


So I but so I had to bone up. So the week before I memorized Annabel Lee, I try to memorize the bells. That doesn't go so well. I read a biography. It's really depressing and sad and short violent life.


So but I throw myself at the Bronx Historical Society. I say I impose no one fan as long as I don't have to wear frock coat and a fake mustache and recite the raven every weekend.


I can do this. This is my destiny.


And they say, well, a lot of people feel the same way you do, Matthew.


When they hear the words free rent, people get a little crazy, you know, but we take this very seriously. You need to know your post history. And we also need you to sign this contract.


It says you will not leave after a month. And then you'll stay at least a year. And I leave after a month, like, why would anyone leave?


And I just made off color joke as a wave of caretakers gone mad in the house, you know, and they said, no, no, no, nothing that bad, nothing that bad.


But we just would like you to consider yourself, you know, people, you know, forget that this job is very hard and the Bronx would be a very isolating place.


So and caretakers, you know, there are adjustments, but we want you to consider yourself an ambassador to the neighborhood.


OK, but don't let the neighborhood know you live in the house. Just security purposes. Privacy issues are OK. I can do that.


So a month later, I'm awarded the position of caretaker and head docent and ambassador to the Bronx.


Me, it sounded ridiculous.


It was ridiculous. And then I took the four train up to the Northern Bronx. I got off a Kingsbridge road and headed east.


And I'm hearing Jamaican accents, Korean, Mexican, Bengali, Pakistani.


And wow, I am the outsider here like this. I do have to be an ambassador.


How am I going to make a 19th century poet, you know, relative to the 21st century global community?


This is a bit much.


I get up to the Grand Concourse. It's four lanes of north south traffic hissing back and forth. And there's the cottage across the street.


Little 19th century clapboard farmhouse looks like little house on the Prairie.


The urban edition is just was like did not belong there. And so it was like, all right, I'm into this.


So across the street and there's a young man on the corner with a very pronounced limp and he zeroes right in on me. He's like, What's up, man? What do you need now? I'm good, thank you.


Walk on by. And I realize, oh, that must be the local heroin dealer.


I move into the basement, sure enough, has only got one window. It looks right out on this corner. I can see this guy doing his thing and I ran into him every morning because Po did not pay.


I had to get another job downtown.


So I get up early, the crack of dawn for the commute and I'd walk out to the gates. The property was encircled.


I was a little city park and I was encircled by a locked gate. I called it the gated community of one.


And I go out the gate, walk up the corner and I see this guy every morning.


Every morning he'd say the same thing. What's up, man? What do you need? I'm good, thanks. We did this about four or five times before he got the hit.


But there's still this tension between the two of us every morning because from his vantage point, he could, you know, tell where most people were coming from in the neighborhood. But for the life of him, I know he can never figure out where the hell I'm coming from because the cottage is right there in the middle of nothing.


And I would just pop out, go boom area. I'm a little drug free. Ghost is floating on by and we'd look at each other mutually.


I know he thought I was a narc or he's just thinking if this kid's not here at five a.m. to buy drugs, what is he doing here?


He does not belong and I didn't belong. It was so hard to become a part of that neighborhood.


And then I started my job as Doucett at the house, and that is even harder.


I started in the middle of winter and the only people that come to the Northern Bronx in the winter to see Po's house are the hardcore PO fanatics, scholars, historians, PhDs and actors who are portraying Poe.


And I am getting drilled and some of them have been there before. Like, Oh, so you're the new guy, huh? What can you tell me about the Griswold scandal and its effect on Poe's reputation?


You know, what did you write? The pit and the pendulum here know Philadelphia.


You're wrong. So it just you and I were mixing up my dates left and right. And sometimes if I didn't know the answer, I would just make stuff up, you know?


Did Poe smoke opium? Yeah, sure. Of course he did. It sounds great. Yeah. So and I'd get a call from Historical Society and Matt to stick to the facts. All right.


And and be diplomatic and but it was particularly hard to be diplomatic with one breed of visitor that showed up at my door occasionally.


And one such gentleman shows up on a Sunday afternoon in the winter. He's got a little potbelly and a beard and glasses.


And halfway through my spiel, he says, Well, let me just stop you.


Let me just stop you. Let me ask you something.


Do you really consider Poe to be a major American poet? And nobody ever asked my personal opinion. No, I just been regurgitating facts, so I said yes, yes, I do. And he's like, well, it's unfortunate that you feel that way, because I consider him a second rate personally and but I understand why you have to say that, because you're working here, you have to defend him.


He's your author. I understand that because I look after historical house, too. It's like, oh, you do?


Yeah. In fact, it's an author's house.


I was like, oh, pray tell. Who is your author?


Oh, you might have heard of him. Goes by the name of Walt Whitman.


Yes. Now, historically, keep in mind, Whitman did not like Poe's poetry.


He thought it was a little too dark for America.


So here it is, the rivalry, the modern incarnation.


And by this time I have gone completely native. My hair is out like this.


I got mutton chop sideburns. I'm drinking a lot. I'm angry and I'm lashing out at my critics.


I am poor. I'm like second rate. You know, I've always felt Walt Whitman was a pretentious gasbag.


I think the guy never heard of a period free verse. Oh, you know, I don't really feel this way, but I am not myself anymore. I am possessed that it works.


So you can't say that about women. Welcome to the Bronx, pal.


That's how we do things here. And I would this conversation would happen.


I'd get into arguments with rival caretakers from other literary homesteads. It exists. And I would get angry. I do about it. I would like why does the Washington Irving House and Sleepy Hollow get all the nonprofit funding? Because they got some headless horseman. Oh, Philistines.


And I just like and I you know, I'm becoming more passionate, but also slightly more unhinged.


And I'm getting buried alive every other weekend by snowstorm's, which cover up that one window, leaving me with no natural light. And by the time springtime arrives, I am pale and hairy. I'm like a hibernating grizzly bear, like coming out of my den. I'm hungry, I'm angry, and I want human connection.


And and with spring come the buds, you know, the trees and but also the local people start coming through the park, they walk through the park and they see me sitting on the porch.


I'm like, all right, Ambassador, I could do this right.


And they come by, oh, we didn't know this was a museum. And they walk right up.


And but their number one question is, do you have a bathroom? Yes, I do. But I can't tell you that I have no, I don't I don't have one.


And I'm sitting on the porch one afternoon thinking, how am I going to pull off this ambassador role to this neighborhood, which I don't belong?


And I'm sitting out there and a gentleman sits late in the day on a Sunday about to close up, and a gentleman comes through the walk gate and he notices a very pronounced limp.


And it's the dealer I know it is from back in January, and this time he doesn't ask me, what do I need? He's like, can I get a tour? Yeah, come on in. So he comes into the parlor, just the two of us now and I am my insides are tightly like a bedsprings.


I am so because he got a little smirk on his face and he's looking at me and everything he asks me is no different than when anyone else has ever asked me about coming from him.


It's completely loaded. He says, I didn't and I walked past his house every day, I didn't know it was a museum. Yeah, we'll look at all this furniture, it looks pretty old. Is it worth anything? No, no, nothing is worth well, what did DPO right here?


Cask of Amontillado. Oh, that's the one about murder, right?


They're all about murder, aren't they? I love stories about murder. Well, so do I. Who doesn't. Right.


So I mean, he closes his eyes and puts two fingers up to his temples and gets really quiet just like this. And he sways back and forth for a full minute.


And I don't know what's going on, you know?


And then he opens his eyes, takes those fingers all of a sudden points right at me. And it says. Once upon a midnight dreary as I pondered, weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, as I nodded gently napping. Suddenly there came a wrapping wrapping and I stand there aghast and listened to the whole first half of the raven.


Not the whole poem, but the whole first half, which is pretty.


And it gets to the first nevermore kind of peters out. But I certainly did not I did not expect this and my job, just like I was like, that's impressive. That's fantastic. And he's like, Yeah, thanks, I had to memorize that in high school.


I hate that poem.


So much and that just broke everything up and we just like everything that we just talked about, been price and horror movies, and he's giving me suggestions like, well, if you like working here, you should go to Woodlawn Cemetery. Miles Davis is buried up there.


And all this other stuff I would just add is and we're going back at a 20 minute conversation and it's great.


And I walk him out to the porch, shakes my hand, is a little smirk on his face. And he's like, you're doing a pretty good job.


Keep up the good work. By the way, I just got one more question for you. Do you live here, you live in the south. And I really I really wanted to say yes, because we've had such an honest discussion, but of course I say no and he says, well, has been too bad to be pretty cool to live in this house.


And I can tell from the way he says that, that I am not fooling him one bit. He knows exactly.


But there now seems to be this implicit understanding, like I won't tell anyone that you live here by yourself. You don't tell anyone what I do on the corner. Or that I have 19th century poetry memorized, so we leave it at that.


He walks off and of course in that moment we'd flip roles. He's the ambassador, I'm the tourist. And I have just been officially welcomed to the Bronx.


Thank you. That was Matt Mircera, Matt is a writer, storyteller and adjunct professor in New York City. These days, he's working on a non historical novel about Poe's cottage in the Bronx. He's thinking of calling it Poe's basement to see a picture of Matt during the time he worked at the powerhouse. Visit The Moth, Doug. Next, we're going to hear a story from one of our stories slams in St. Paul, where we partner with Minnesota Public Radio.


That story slams tellers interpret the theme of the evening with a true story from their lives. And judges from the audience choose a winner. The theme for this story, Slam was Fish Out of water. Here's Jennifer Canonist live at the mall. OK, that's right.


So about two years ago, I took a little mini vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico. And everybody that I told that I was going there had one piece of advice and that was, you've got to go to this place, 10000 waves. It's just beautiful spots, Japanese spas. And it's it's lovely and you'll love it.


So after my first day of sightseeing, it's a beautiful place, you know, adobe buildings, blue skies, I thought, I'll go there.


So I go back to my room and I look up on the Internet because I'm like, I don't know what to bring to a spot because I'm not a spokesperson, because I'm staying at a hostel. They cost 20 bucks a night.


That gives you an idea.


And it's like, you know, everything you need is provided towels. You know, robe, slippers and clothing is optional. And I'm like, it's an option. It's an option to not wear clothes. It's not an option that I'd considered.


And so I considered it and I considered it all the way there. And while I was checking in, I'm like, I don't know, it's weird naked. And I decided, you know, in the locker room, leave the bathing suit in the locker and I'll I'll do this because, like, why not? I'm never going to see these people again. It's a it's you know, it's the chance to try something new.


So I, you know, put on my little robe and slippers and I go up and it's a little dark pathway lit by Japanese lanterns. It is, you know, to its credit, very beautiful place. And I get to the area where the hot tub and sauna are, and it's you pay like a day rate to go there and it's evening and it's dark. And I get to the area and I'm like, why was I worried?


I can hardly see my feet. And I sort of like feel my way to the hot tub and slip in. And there's like three sixty year old guys in the hot tub. And I'm like, I don't care about you and I don't think you care about me. And so it was no big deal.


And I look up and the Milky Way is just like stretched out in a clearing in the trees. And I'm like, why would you even look at anything else but that?


It's gorgeous. So I sit in the hot tub, I go on the cold plunge, I go in the sauna, I take a cold shower and I just I'm blissed out. I just love it.


I fall in love with the experience so much that I want to go back the next day, but I want to go back during the daytime because I want to spend more time and I'm going to go to the all women's area because I'm naked and it's daytime.


And so I just really kind of want to be around women.


So I go through the whole ritual, you know, robe, slippers, and I walk up this winding path to the area and I go through the gate. And when I walk through, I remember thinking I need to sear this image into my brain so that I can tell my straight male friends about it because there are like twelve nude and seminude women and they are like the goddesses of Santa Fe.


They are long and life and tan and muscular. And they have the kind of body that requires like decades of good genes and millions of dollars.


And this is probably a good time for me to talk a little bit about my body. By contrast, I'm a cornfed Midwestern girl. I'm five feet tall and I'm 41 and I've had two children. And there has not been a lot, of course, correction throughout the last decades. So, you know, I'm fat and I'm fat, not like Dove Beauty ad fat, I'm fat like rolls and dimples and know things. And these women, I'm sure are like they think back that fat is a myth.


But I'm, you know, here I am so.


But I'm not easily daunted, so I'm like, you know, robot, if I go into the hot tub and I settle into the experience and this really beautiful woman comes out, she's fair skinned, red hair, and she walks out and she's really tentative and really shy. And I look at her and I recognize something because I know it in myself. She hates her body. And I'm looking at her and I have no idea why, because she is beautiful and but I know I'm like, there's something she's ashamed of.


She hates and and it makes me really sad. So I get up and I go into the sauna and I lay down on the wood slats. And if you've ever taken a sauna, you know, you kind of release tension by degrees and you can kind of feel it kind of coming out of your body. And with every breath, I just started to think about all of the things that my body had done for me over the years. You know, I had built two beautiful children in my body.


I had birthed two children without drugs, one of them ten point four pounds. Thank you very much. Yeah, yeah, that's that that's my body and, you know, I had you know, I had eaten all this delicious food with my body.


I'd walked in foreign countries with my body. I had had really exceptional sexual experiences with my body. And I had gotten a lot of pleasure from my body. I had also treated my body not with the most respect. I had really pushed the envelope and drug and alcohol abuse. I smoked cigarettes. I don't exercise. And in return, my body continues to perform with some regularity. And that's pretty amazing to me. And in return for that kindness, I hate my body.


I just loathe it. And I loathe it because the way that I feel on the inside is such a vast difference from the way I look on the outside and I don't know how to bridge that difference. And so I sit in with every breath. I just try to release this feeling and I get up and I walk out to the deck area and it's like 40 degrees. It's December, so I'm hot and the steam rising off my body, which is cool, and the wind is blowing and blowing through my pubic hair, which is a thing, really.


It happens. And I'm like out there naked in the world, in nature, and I have this thought, it's like I don't have a body, I am a body. And when I hate my body, I hate all of the things that make me who I am. And a goddess to Santa Fe doesn't have time for that.


Thank you. Jennifer Kornhauser is a mother, writer, ad maven, and her words low rent bon vivant. We asked her for a photo from the trip, but she said for obvious reasons, cameras were not allowed. When we come back, what it was like to show up for work at the World Trade Center on September 11. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by the Public Radio Exchange PUREX Doug.


This is the Moth Radio Hour from Pyrex. I'm Jennifer Hickson from The Moth. The Moths community program sometimes works with nonprofits in New York, and we're very proud of our relationship with the 9/11 Tribute Center, where we met our next storyteller, Earlene Alexander. Earlene, live at the mall.


So my mom, my mom and I, we were very close.


We were so close that we would have dinner together almost every night, even after I moved out. Someone had to beat me.


And we talk every day and we always in our conversation have something to laugh about. And that laugh would get us through today or sometimes through the week. We even worked for the same company at the World Trade Center. She worked in engineering on a second seventy second floor and I worked in aviation.


So she got to work really early though. 730 me and the rest of the world, we got to work at about nine thirty nine, forty five, ten.


But on this beautiful day in September, I remember it being the loveliest day I had to be at work early.


So since I had to be at work early, I said, I'm going to surprise my mom and I'm going to show by her desk with a cup of coffee, light and sweet like she likes it. And I'm going to say, well, who has banker's hours now?


And I say that because I recall that she used to always tease me about having banker's hours. She's like, you know, you just cannot get to work before a 10k you. Well, today I am.


So I make my way to the World Trade Center.


I get to the concourse where all the stories are and I look and I just wonder, like, who are all these people up so early?


That concourse is full of people in a coffee line is so much longer than I usually have it.


But I stand in line.


I get the coffee because I am going to I am determined to surprise my mom on this day.


So I make my way to the forty fourth floor because at the forty fourth floor, you had the change over to the next set of elevators.


So I'm headed to the next set of elevators to get to my mom's floor.


And I see in one of the elevators my work mom, Margaret, and I see that she's talking to our friend Dan, who's the secretary of our company. So when talking and laughing and oh, what are they talking about? I want I want to know.


So I try to catch up to them. And just as I get to the elevator, it closes in my face. They couldn't see me because if they did, they would have held the elevator and then I would have been laughing, too. So I'm waiting for the next elevator. All of a sudden, the building shook violently and it leaned to the side and bounced back. What was that? What is going on around me? Glass is cracking and shattering and people are just moving so fast.


I don't know what's going on, but I hear a voice coming from the stairwell. Let's get out of here. Let's get off this floor. We have to go. So we go into the stairwell and is calm, is quiet.


It's almost like one of our periodical fire drills, evacuation drills. The only thing you could hear in the stairwell were people walking down the stairs.


We still didn't really know what was going on. I was just hoping that the levees were working when we had to come back in.


So we get down to the concourse and we open a door to the concourse and there's nothing but flashing strobe lights and alarms going off and a police officer pushing us out of the out of the office building.


Get out of this office building. Get out quickly. So I stopped by the office building and there's paper coming from this guy. I step out a little further and I look back up at the building and there's a cloud of smoke coming from one of the floors, has a really bad office fire. I wonder how that happened. And then all of a sudden, I feel myself being pushed again, pushed across the street, get away from the building.


So I go to the corner directly across the street from the building. And then I notice I still have my mom's coffee. I still have a chance to give my mom her coffee as soon as she comes out of this building.


So I'm waiting and I'm looking at each and every face coming out of that building. I didn't see my mom, two of my co-workers come up to me and they say, well, we have to leave this area.


I said, yeah, I'll leave as soon as my mom comes and then we can all work together, wait with me.


So they indulge me for a minute. And then they convinced me that I have to leave. And so we're walking. And then I, I don't know how it slipped my mind that I'm still holding coffee. My hand has a tight grip on his coffee because in my mind I'm still looking for my mom because I need to get her. It is coffee and I'm looking at every face going by me. I'm looking at every face in every crowd and I still don't see my mom.


So then a man comes and runs BIA's take cover.


The building's about to fall.


So we go into a store and as soon as we walk in a store and I look out the window all of a sudden like a nuclear explosion does, then.


Smoke just like takes over the whole area. I can no longer see the buildings, I can no longer see the people. So when the dust cleared, I was really concerned because my mom had asthma really bad and all this smoke and dust going on, I just wanted to find her. What, my cell phone wasn't working. No one cell phone was working, so I couldn't call her.


So we went to find a payphone. Every pay phone had like 10000 people online. And so finally, I'm going to sit at this payphone and wait on line with everyone else. So I get to the phone. I call my mom's house to see if anyone there is heard from her.


No answer. I call my grandmother's house to see if anyone's heard from her on that side. I talked to my aunt. They're so happy to hear from me. And I'm and they're just kind of like, yeah, that's good. But have you talked to my mom? And they were like, no, we were hoping that she would be with you.


So I hang up and I keep walking at this point and walking towards the Penn Station area to powertrain, so I get to the police station and as they were telling me what were what was going on, I was still like, I couldn't believe it.


That really happened.


So I'm on the first train back to New Jersey.


We come out of the tunnel and it's hard to believe how. Such a beautiful morning, a beautiful morning produced such a dark night. So I get to my mom's house. And I notice that even darker and I notice that because the porch light isn't on, the porch light is always on at my mom's house.


What is going on? So I ring a bell and my dad answers the door. He has tears in his eyes and he gives me the biggest Titus hug ever. And he's so glad to see me.


And I so glad to be home and see him, but I need to know, did you see my mom? Is my mom home? Did you hear from her? So he backs up and he says, just come inside.


My heart went to my stomach, but I followed him inside and I looked in the living room and my mom was there and we hugged each other so tight and all of our emotions came out.


And I just realized that that moment I was really scared that I had lost her.


And then I also thought, as I step back, how did you get home before me?


But that day, I mean, I was like the luckiest person in the world, so many people were lost, mothers, daughters, my work mom, Margaret and my friend Dan, they never made it out that elevator. But I missed that. I don't know why I missed the elevator.


But I am very happy and very glad that I still get to talk with my mom every day, I still get to go to dinner and I still get to get her a cup of coffee, light and sweet whenever I want.


Thank you. That was Earlene Alexander Earlene works at the aviation department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey through work.


She spends a lot of time at the Newark Airport where they have a 9/11 memorial. She says every time she sees it, her eyes go immediately to the names of her friends from the elevator, Margaret and Dan. She also keeps a photo of them as her screensaver.


Arlene's mother, who still lives in nearby New Jersey, was in the audience the night Arlene told her story, which is significant because it was the first time she'd stepped foot back in New York City since the day of the attacks nearly 12 years earlier. Her mom loved hearing the story, but hasn't been back since. To see a picture of Arlene and her mother or to get a link to the 9/11 tribute center, visit the radio shows page at the morgue.


If any of the stories you hear today inspire you to share one of your own, please pitch us. The number to call is 877 799 Morfe, or you can do it right on our Web site, The Moth Dawg. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at the. That's it for the Moth Radio Hour. We hope you'll join us next time. Your host this hour was the most senior producer, Jennifer Hickson. Jennifer also directed the stories in the show, along with Bonnie Levinson, the rest of the most directorial staff, and includes Kathryn Burns, Sarah Habermann, Sarah Austin Ginés and Meg Bolls.


Production support from Whitney Jones. Most stories are true, is remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. Both events are recorded by Argo Studios in New York City, supervised by Paul Weir West. Our theme music is By The Drift.


Other music in this hour from Tin Hat Trio, Dave Matthews, Freddie Price and Lawless Music. You can find links to all the music we use at our Web site. Moth is produced for radio by me, Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, with help from Vicki Merrick. This hour was produced with funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed to building a more just verdant and peaceful World Moth Radio Hour, as presented by the Public Radio Exchange PRL NextG.


For more about our podcast, for information on pitching your own story and for everything else, go to our website, Thumos Dog.