I didn't write about the 10th anniversary remembrance of the 9/11/01 Attack on America yesterday for a number of reasons. I got up earlier than I usually would to get ready for church. Jake had come home from the Birmingham job late Saturday night so that he could attend the memorial service with his family. A most welcome change, since this job has dragged on and on, leaving us both frustrated and annoyed at not being able to have a normal family life at all. I got the kids up and we all got ready to go. At 8:50, we left the house. Jake and I began to talk about it a little in the car.
"What time of day did it actually happen?" he asked me. "I heard about it at work that night, but didn't have phone or TV at the time. So I never saw the footage, or wanted to."
I glanced at the clock on the dash. 9:02. Really?
"The second plane hit the towers 10 years ago right now."
I told him where I had been when it happened:
I was 20 years old and a student at American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, where my dad had taught before (and when) he died. I was majoring in Graphic Design. Not because I wanted to, but because that was the closest thing to "Art" they had to offer, being mainly a business degree school. I was sort of floating aimlessly about, since Dad had died so suddenly and my world flipped upside down. We had no money for me to attend anywhere else and I was more or less winging it, every day.
I did enjoy my classes, though, and as I've never been a "morning person", I scheduled as many later classes as I could. One ran until 10 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, putting me home somewhere around 11 or 11:30. Homework after that left my bedtime hovering consistently between 1 and 3 a.m. most nights. I had endured such a night on Monday, the 10th of September, and at 8:45 a.m. on the morning of the 11th, I was blissfully snuggled in my covers, not having to force myself up until an afternoon work shift at Michael's.
My mom called my phone and woke me up. "You really need to come in my room and see the news." she said. "Something weird is going on. You should call Jennifer Tomassini right now." Jennifer was my best friend of 10 years and she lived in New York, attending the USMMA and setting up the first of what would turn into many years of school to become a pharmacist.
New York. 909 miles away (says Google Maps), it may as well have been on the other side of the world to me. I've always wanted to visit NYC, but stuff got in the way. School. Work. Airfare prices. (That much hasn't changed in the last 10 years. I still haven't been, and for all the same reasons.) As I stood in front of mom's TV dialing Jennifer's number, two things happened. It was 9:02 and mom and I watched in horror as the second plane came careening in on the right side of the screen and exploded into the second tower. My brain just wouldn't process what I was seeing. This was a live TV feed and it was 100% for real.
As the buzzing in my head slowly faded away, I realized that there was noise coming from my phone, which I was holding dumbly near my ear. It was a busy signal. Every phone line to New York was jammed for hours. I didn't really know where Jennifer worked or what she did all day. For all I knew, she was in or near those towers that I was watching crash to the ground. I couldn't breathe. When I finally got hold of her, I remember feeling my heart start beating again. I was so relieved to know she was ok. She had been some miles away, but it still freaked me out that she was in the general area of this horrible thing. She called every couple of days after that to help keep us updated on what she knew, but it was more or less the same things we heard on the news.
I still had to go to work later that afternoon, but there weren't many people out. Most stayed fairly near a TV or radio. I remember that there were no planes in the sky at all. Very odd for a suburb of Atlanta, and one of the busiest airports in the world. Nothing, for days. It was very eerie.
Life for me went on, though, and I went to school, work, got married and had children. Time marched on, and here we are 10 years down the road. While I didn't know anyone personally that died that day, I know that many of my freedoms had been taken away or limited in the aftermath. Words I had never considered before have now become part of my regular vocabulary. "Homeland Security". "Al Qaeda". "Terrorist". My world, once small and neat, has been broadened, shaken, and altered.
My stepchildren were 1 and 3 when it happened. Yesterday, at 11 and almost 13, they watched memorial videos with footage from that day and just sat in the pew with their mouths open and eyes wide. This is the kind of thing I am fighting to keep out of the world I pass along to you, my loves. I'm sorry. I wish those things didn't happen, but they do. Did. Are. Old enough now to understand what happened and (partially) why, they are appalled.
My husband's Aunt had this on her blog, and as it's Monday I am sharing it for Music Monday. It gave me chills to watch. I won't ever forget what that day means for me as an American citizen. It's sobering, but not defeating. Turn up the sound and pray for America. She needs it now, more than ever.