Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 Memories

I debated whether or not I was going to post anything like this, whether I should add my voice to the cacophony of those sharing their thoughts and memories of what that day was like for them. I almost decided against it; after all, I didn't have anyone in peril that day, and likely nothing profound to add to the conversation. In the end, though, I realized that it was our tapestry of shared experience that helped to bring us all together on that day and the days that followed, and that my experience is no more or less worthy of inclusion than that of anyone else.

I slept through the whole thing. I'm not sure if that's better or worse. I didn't have the sinking feeling as I watched and tried to figure out exactly what was happening, but on the other hand, I had to try to take it in all at once.

I was 24. The company I had been working for had gone out of business about two months before, so I moved back to Bowling Green with my friends Mike and Adam and was in the process of looking for a new job. That day, I was sleeping in. I remember hearing the phone ring several times, but I didn't really think anything of it. By the time I woke up, the South Tower was already down, and the North Tower would not be long in joining it.

Then, as now, my first action upon waking was usually to get online, which is what I did that day. I was immediately presented with images and accounts of what was going on in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Not to put too fine a point on it, I had my breath knocked out by all of it. I kept looking at pictures from New York and trying to grasp it. My aunt and uncle had taken me to NYC as a kid, I'm thinking it was 1988, and I was fascinated by the Twin Towers, absolutely loved them. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that they were gone, just gone....I couldn't quite do it.

Seen from the bay as we took a ferry around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Seen from the Empire State Building

I watched the coverage all day and well into the evening, trying to keep abreast of new developments, particularly as they tried to figure out how many had been killed, or, more importantly, how many had found a way to survive. I tried to imagine being in those buildings under those circumstances, and I marveled at each new story of heroism and survival. It was like I couldn't get enough. I don't mean that in a morbid way; I just wanted to know everything that anyone else knew about what was going on.

I had plans that weekend to travel (drive) to South Carolina for a college football game between Bowling Green and the University of South Carolina. Those plans held until Thursday, when the decision was made to cancel all NCAA football games for the weekend. Instead, I held to my routine and went to a Troy High School game (in Greenville) on Friday night. My friend Amy usually went to the games with me back then, but she opted out that night, not quite ready to be in a crowd. I went by myself, and was heartened by the size of the crowd, which was smaller than it might otherwise have been, but not by as much as I might have expected. Someone handed out flag stickers that night, and being out in a crowd and hearing the National Anthem played by the band was the first time I had really felt good all week.

I felt the same way watching the tributes on TV when baseball resumed the following Monday, and then again when college football and the NFL came back the next weekend. As I watched those events, occasionally through tears, there came a point when I began to wonder if things would ever settle down into a routine and begin to feel normal again.

Eventually, of course, they did. People went back to their day-to-day lives, the world moved on, and now here we are, ten years later. It seems incredible that it possibly could have been that long. Obviously the U.S. and the world are still feeling the ripples from the events of that day, and that will be going on for a long, long time. And while it's impossible for anyone to completely prevent attacks like this from a determined enemy, we can only hope that it will be a long, long time before we see another day like that one.

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