September 11th. An infamous day in American History. Where were you when it happened? Here’s my story:
Sitting at the desk in my bedroom, I grab the mascara and begin applying, watching the reflection of my lashes become darker. Katie Couric is talking in the background on my little television and I’m hurrying to get ready to go to work. It’s a Tuesday, and I have some things to get done at the financial institution where I work before my boss gets in. I’m still living at home while I work and put myself through college, which I think is financially prudent but at the same time robbing me of opportunities every college-age-person should have. I have a never ending to-do list spinning through my head, red-flagging that today my dry cleaning is ready for pick up and I need to take my car in to get the radio fixed before I go crazy during my silent half hour commute.
My attention is pulled to the TV as the new broadcast dives into a frenzy. They aren’t sure what’s going on, but it seems like a plane hit one of the twin towers. I drop the mascara wand and turn it up, seeing hazy footage and not understanding. I am riveted. I try to piece together information, disbelieving, waiting for someone to say its an accident and miraculously there aren’t casualties. When its clear that’s not the case, I jump up, run down the hallway and shout to my parents, “Wake up. Something’s happened.” I bang on the foot of the bed, and say the impossible sentence. “A plane hit the World Trade Center Tower.”
My dad’s voice breaks through his sleepy haze, “What?”
I repeat myself.
“That can’t be right,” he says, sitting up.
“Turn on the news,” I say, not waiting for him as I fly back down the hallway to my room. I don’t know why I retreat to the tiny TV in my room, the smallest one in the house. Maybe it’s where I feel the most safe. The news comes in smokey, awful snippets. Speculation, crying. Armageddon.
I look at the clock. I’m going to be late. Will it matter? How can anyone work right now? I throw my hair up, and dress as quickly as I can. I forgo breakfast. Instead I just stand there, facing the TV, taking in the graphic and unimaginable images.
I can’t believe I have to go to work. The silence in my car is ridiculously loud as I speed along the freeway, cursing my broken radio, white lines dashing by me, throwing the seconds in my face. I shouldn’t be speeding, but I feel like a have a free pass. Today, everything is different.
The elevator doors open; the reception area is quiet and bathed in stale office lighting. The only people here are staff without the luxury of choosing if they come in or not. We cluster around various TV’s in the office, only looking away to give each other blank looks or wipe tears. There are no words to undo the horror, no way to soften the impact.
We alternate between channels, trying to find the most accurate portrayal of what is happening, even thought it’s ripping us apart. We watch the images in horror as people run, screaming. We watch as people die.
Later, all I want is to see my family and friends. I hug everyone. Tight. There’s nothing to say. The words of disbelief taste sour.
I can’t imagine what people are going through, the survivors, the families of those who died, while I sit in my house- safe. I feel lucky to be alive. I feel guilty to be I alive. Everything’s shifted. Things I thought were important- aren’t. I look at the American flag and tears flood my eyes. A lump sits in my throat, keeping me from speaking. It’s impossible to comprehend how this can happen. I’m so far away, but I feel so much a part of it. I can’t wrap my head around it.
Every year September 11th creeps up again and I still can’t wrap my head around it. I ache for those who lost loved ones. I pray for those who serve to keep us safe.
I will never forget. The only way I can honor those who died is to REMEMBER.
Tell your kids, tell the younger generation about what happened and where you were. Tell them how you felt and the way it impacted you forever. Tell them so that it won’t be a lesson in their history class. Tell them you remember.
I remember. I will never forget.