Warning: not for the faint of faith….or easily offeneded.
Of course i remember where i was on september 11th. i was in a music ed seminar acting like a four year old while a crazy lady told me to do very weird things (i.e. act like a four year old). it wasn’t until class let out at 11am that i heard about what had happened. a fellow student was rambling about watching tv and seeing the twin towers fall. and i’ll admit it, i actually asked what movie she had been watching (which just goes to show what kind of society we live in, where that kind of announcement doesn’t automatically register as “awful thing happening” but as “huh. sounds like a good movie”), and didn’t fully understand or believe it until we had all crowded into the piano lab (the only place in the building with a tv) and were watching the billows of black smoke where the towers had once stood. i remember the rest of that day: trying desperately to call home, knowing that the chance of my stepdad being on one of those planes was very high. and not being able to use my cell phone…all circuits were busy. for an hour. finally i remembered where there was a pay phone and scrounged change from anywhere and anyone i could think of….and then waiting in line to use it. thankfully, my family was all fine. although they had been spending most of the morning a few houses up the street (which used to have a clear view of the towers) watching the smoke blow. then hanging out with my roomate and my friend in my apartment, not really knowing what to do or how to act. at one point my roomate said, “i know this is weird….but i kinda need to pick up my birth control pills….”. and i was the only one of our friends with a car. and just because we couldn’t stand sitting in an apartment dorm in delaware any more, we drove to pick up her prescription. a sight i will never forget is getting on the highway (a main interstate)…and not seeing any other cars. and then seeing on the traffic alert signs “I-95 north closed. no access to new york city”. the three of us were silent. we didn’t know what to do, how to think, what to say. all we could manage was, “oh my god.” “i can’t even believe i’m seeing this….new york is NEVER closed” “::::breathing::::::”.
and this is going to come out as odd, but bear with me. september 11th was a horrible, horrible tragedy. yet from that tragedy, so many good things happened. the biggest thing was that all of a sudden, a generation of people who had previously been ambivalent about fire fighters or police officers or the military learned EXACTLY why we need these wonderful, amazing people. we wept for them, we cheered for them, we did whatever we could to let them know how much their work truly meant. and america as a whole became nicer for a while. we asked how each other were doing, and actually listened to the answer. we donated blood where before the attitude might have been “someone else’ll do it”.
one thing i’ve noticed in my years away from the east coast is how different the attitude is towards 9/11. that’s not to say people weren’t affected by it, of course they were. but it wasn’t in their backyard. and 4, 5,6 y ears after 9/11, i was struck by the differences…and how hard it is to describe. and it was very different in san diego than here in spokane, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. i mean, yes, in san diego you have like 8 million naval bases as well as marine corps bases….but here, there’s still an air force base. you’ll still see military personnel walking around town. b ut it’s always felt like a “just another day” kind of attitude here. even this year, ten years after it happened. and i’ve wished many times that i were back in new jersey….but i really really really wish i could have been back there this year, for this september 11th. i wish i could go to ground zero and pay my respects again (i went a few months right after 9/11, when there were still flyers for missing people plastered all around the fence that surrounded ground zero…and obviously i’ve been there a few times after that, but it was never at profound as that first time i went).
i was going to use this as a rant against religion, but as i read what i’ve written, i realize that today is not the day for it. i have lots of strong feelings about religion, and september 11th was a huge catalyst for many of those feelings…..but september 11th is not the time for it. maybe another day, in the not so distant future. today is for remembering, for watching anything you can find regarding what happened that day. watch those awful images again, listen to the sad songs. tell your children what happened, if they’re old enough, or figure out how you’re going to explain it to your children one day. don’t forget what it felt like to truly come together as a country. donate blood again. donate money. thank the next service person you see. above all….never forget. ever. those who died deserve to be remembered.