I knew I was going to write today about the anniversary of September 11th. I didn’t know what I was going to write. I waited until I sat down and then just let the words flow. It’s been 10 years but it feels like a lifetime ago. To me, anyway. I just didn’t think I could let the date go by and not write about it. And a stream of consciousness is exactly what I needed for something like this.
I didn’t focus on the tragedy of the day. I don’t have any commentary about the state of the world and if we’re really better off. I don’t really think I’m in a position to judge or assess that. Instead, I wrote about how I felt that day. How that one day shook me to the core but my reaction probably showed otherwise.
I will admit that I didn’t limit myself to 5 minutes today. It was more important for me to get the words out than adhere to a time limit.
I don’t like to be a cliche any more than anybody else does. But I don’t see how you can’t pause on 9/11 to remember 9/11. It’s been 10 years and for me, that was my where-were-you-when-it-happened moment. For our parents, it was where they were when Kennedy was shot. For our grandparents, it was more than likely where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
This is the tragedy of our generation.
I was on my way to work and was listening to talk radio, like I usually did. There was breaking news that an airplane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings in NYC. I thought nothing more of it than, oh okay.
In my mind, it was a small private aircraft that had veered off course and crashed into the building, probably killing the pilot and barely making a scratch on the building.
Once I got to work, my mother (who loves a good news story) called me from her office to tell me of the plane crash. I dismissed her say yeah, yeah. I heard about it. She told me she thought it was a big plane, like a 737 or something. Again, I told her there was no way. It was just some small plane or something.
Then I got off the phone and my officemate had a small black & white TV set in her office. We huddle around staring at the fuzzy picture trying to make sense of what we were seeing. Two planes. Commercial planes. We still didn’t understand what was going on.
My mother called again. This time, in her best alarmist voice, she told me that the towers were collapsing. Umm no. My mother is so naive. She believes every rumor she hears. In my best I-know-better-than-you voice, I told her that wasn’t even possible. That was ridiculous.
Once again, I was proven wrong, as we all know. I don’t know if my brain was trying too hard to analyze the situation but it all seemed so unbelievable. Bits and pieces were flying in all day. We heard that all flights had been grounded. We heard that terrorist activity was suspected. We heard about the plane crashing into the Pentagon. We heard about a plane crash in Pennsylvania, not really knowing if it was related.
Then I went to a meeting. Sounds bizarre but working at a technology company, it was a lot of business as usual. I sat through a meeting and don’t remember a single thing we discussed. I felt outside my body and then I finally looked at everyone and said “should we even be here?”
It felt wrong to carry on with business as usual. I couldn’t focus. I didn’t know what I was feeling. I decided to leave work, as did many other people. It wasn’t that we could do anything at home but I guess we felt the need to be closer to our tv sets and to our families until we really understood what it meant.
The odd thing was, I stopped by Sears on my way home. We had been planning to paint the bedroom and I was anxious to get started. I couldn’t focus on work but I didn’t want the day’s activity to interrupt my life. I think I was in denial. One of my high school friends was murdered the year after we all went away to college. When I found out about her death, I didn’t change my plans to go to a water park the next day. I can’t say I enjoyed myself. But I needed to keep myself occupied. Perhaps it was the same thing.
I remember chit-chatting with the clerk at Sears and he made some general comment about what a strange day it was. I know I agreed, got the paint and left.
It was as I was putting the paint in the car that I realized what was making the day so quiet. It was the deafening silence. Complete and utter stillness when you looked up into the sky. I never realized the background noise and activity that has become such a part of our lives with all of the air activity. It seemed that even the birds had ceased flying.
It was a lonely, sad day and one I will never forget.
Thanks for sharing. I remember that day so vividly. It’s hard to believe it was 10 years ago. Seems so distant at times, yet so close too. It really was a day that changed everyone and the entire world.
I remember exactly where I was 10 years ago. For me it feels like it happened yesterday. Thanks for sharing, Fadra!
Thanks for sharing your memory of that day. We all will forever remember where we were & what we were doing as the events unfolded. Similar to the 35W Bridge collapse here in the Twin Cities, but not nearly to the magnitude of the 9/11 tragedy. I did recap my thoughts in more depth on my tumblr: http://melshaunplugged.tumblr.com/post/10079850451/my-journal-entry-from-the-morning-of-9-11
I don’t think anyone can forget. Thanks for sharing Fadra – I was in a car in Dubai and I heard it on the radio – disbelief fell upon the world.
I agree with everyone else. I don’t think we will ever forget. My post today was on 9/11, too. Seems like a lot of people are writing about it.
It’s amazing how most people I talk to had the same reaction to first hearing the news (myself included). I just really didn’t think it would be a big deal so I went on with my day. When it turned out to be a big deal, I realized just how naive I was pre-9/11 and how complacent I was that nothing could ever really happen in the U.S.A.
Thanks for sharing. And for not making me cry. 😉
that stillness, that quiet, is one of my most vivd memories of that morning. i worked in a cancer center, & i remember knowing that the lesson i was learning would stay forever::people still had to have their treatments. life didn’t stop even when it felt like it should.
thank you for doing soc, fadra. i hope you know how much it means to me to come here, say what’s on my mind, and get started with a new week. it means a lot.
I loved your conversation with your mom. Exactly what I would have done. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the day.
I think we all remember exactly where we were and exactly what we were doing. It’s amazing how even feelings and smells are crustal clear to me
I remember that silence, too. And it went on and on and on as the skies stayed empty for days. I can’t remember when they allowed flights again, I just remember my daughter was one of the first to leave LAX…
I was living overseas, a week away from delivering my first child, delighting in my afternoon t.v. when the show was interrupted with the news. Funny that things were very quiet where you were. For me it was constant noise for weeks after as I couldn’t stop watching the coverage. For months when I closed my eyes at night, I’d see those images. Great post.
I still remember this day so vividly. It amazes me that many hated America and caused so many lives to be ended early. Great post.
I, too, was in denial. I was teaching. When my next class, 8th grade choir, walked in, they told me about planes hitting the towers. I didn’t believe them. We had class as usual. I remember the fear over the next few days as things unfolded. We were very near the Oak Ridge nuclear plants. Would that be a target? Should we be in school? How do we prepare for an attack on a nuclear facility?
Thank you for sharing. I’ve felt badly about not believing my students. I’m slowly realizing it was denial, like you.
You know…my thought process was exactly the same. My cubemate mumbled through out shared wall about a plan hitting the Towers and I too thought it was a small aircraft and even said “oh, really?” And then dismissed it. It wasn’t until a few moments later that someone said another plane had struck that it began to become clearer. And of all the things I remember…it is the silence that struck me. I stopped at the grocery store and remember how the skies were quiet and how even all the shoppers seemed so subdued.
It was so appropriate to have Paul Simon sing Sound of Silence at the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony today. That deafening silence you write about is what I remember, too. And I was working at a daycare center at the time so you could imagine how strange it was to have a quiet day.
Such a lovely post. Very good, Fadra. Your writing about your mother is something that I would have done, too.