9.10.01 I remember driving in my car. Blue sky. Sun shining. Radio blaring. My arm dancing outside the car window, feeling the cool breeze. I remember smiling and thinking, " This is such a beautiful day!" 9.11.01 My then boyfriend and I were fast asleep when I received a phonecall from my mom. "Turn on the tv," she said. Lazily I turned it on, but couldn't understand what I was seeing. It was a news report with a split-screen image labeled "New York" and "Washington, D.C." Things were smoking and on fire. I thought I was witnessing the end of the world. I thought Boston would be next. I suppose it was - in a way - the end of the world as we all knew it to be. I woke my boyfriend up and we sat huddled together on the edge of the bed, clutching one another in fear and confusion. I remember seeing the towers fall, but not making any sense of the images. The news reporters were slow to explain what we were seeing... I think they were stunned too. "What is happening!?!" I kept saying, but there were no answers that I wanted to hear. 9.12.01 and the days that followed:
The silence in the skies was deafening, marked only by the occasional military jet circling overhead. This was real and happening to us all. Flags were everywhere, on cars, trucks, and homes. Some of my roommates didn't want to talk about it anymore, some couldn't stop talking about it. None of us knew how we were supposed to deal. We just kind of went on living. I went to a mall to be near people, but the few who were there were walking around like zombies. I guess we all wanted to feel a little normal, but everyone knew it wasn't working. I kept a votive candle on the front steps, in a jar. There wasn't much more I could do. 4.21.03
My husband and I were on our honeymoon in Washington D.C. No tours were being held, and most things were closed down to the public due to 9/11. We couldn't get very close to the White House, because of the extra rows of barriers in the street.
We saw a newly opened 9/11 exhibit in one of the museums on the National Mall. It was too sad, and we ran out of the building crying into the sunshine. We laid down on the green grass and took photos of ourselves. A honeymoon is supposed to be happy, but it was a struggle to stop thinking about the tragedy.
Ten year anniversary. Still feels just like it happened yesterday. I cannot see the images of the towers without crying for the people who were trapped on the upper floors. The people who jumped. The happy kids on rooftop tours, who had torturous last moments.
We are now used to the words "post 9/11" or "pre 9/11." We are now used to "security" searches at airports, taking our shoes off, and having our bags searched. We are used to seeing images of war with unseen foes, and hearing casualty reports, and deployment reports. We are used to the words "suspicious package" and "powdery substance." We know that you can't bring a bottle of water on a plane and your shampoo must be in a clear container. We are used to hearing about national security levels and the Department of Homeland Security.
Since 9/11, the police and fire departments come through the beginning of a parade to a standing ovation, instead of the end to people heading home.
As I looked at people today, going about their lives, I knew the events of past were in the backs of their minds. I felt connected to my fellow Americans. We all share a common bond. We all know where we were ten years ago today. We all have a story. What's yours?