Friday, September 9, 2011

My Nine Eleven

On September 11th 2001, I was a 16 year old junior at Osbourn High School. My hair was bright red, my fashion choices were ridiculous, and my life was theater.

Given my aptitude for all things fabulous, I naturally despised Math. Lucky me that Math was the first class of the day so I could get it over with. After class, I tied my Adidas sneakers before going down the back stairwell to my English class with Miss Carter. On my way, I passed Heather - she was in tears.

"Heather what's wrong?"
"They just bombed the World Trade Center"

The last bombing I really remembered was the Oklahoma City bombing when I was in elementary school. I was taught that there are bad people who do bad things to good people. I didn't know which World Trade Center it was since there are buildings of that name in other cities. I continued to my English class and saw the TV on - the news showed one smoking tower next to its twin - it was the Twin Towers in NYC. I was just there last year and had the chance to go inside- I said no because I wanted to go shopping at H&M. I figured I would just go next year when we take our next trip.

All of the faculty were called for a meeting while the students remained in the classrooms. Miss Carter put me in charge of taking attendance. I took attendance and tried to calm everyone down. "New York knows how to handle these kinds of things - they'll be okay". Our teacher came back and we turned off the TV.
Rumors flew between 2nd and 3rd period about a plane hitting the Pentagon and the White House. "Mr. ____ let us watch TV and we heard there are more planes that are headed here." "There's a plane circling around Dulles right now" "My dad works there" "My mom had a meeting in DC today" "My dad flew out this morning"

I don't remember the rest of the day, but I do remember walking outside into the parking lot with Brooke. There were no planes flying overhead. Because we live so close to Dulles Airport and Washington D.C., there are always planes in the sky. On that day, it was clear. She dropped me off at my house and I walked inside hearing the TV. Mom was sitting on the couch and we watched. I don't remember what we said to each other but I know it wasn't much.

The next day, school was canceled. Brooke and I made signs that said "Honk if you love America" and drove around Manassas, blaring country music and "God Bless America". We also went shopping at Old Navy.

I know I changed on that day. I was still a bratty, self-absorbed 16 year old who cared more about clothes than grades, but I had a sharper sense of how short life can be. I didn't question "why did this happen" because I chalked it up to a group of really bad people doing a really horrific thing to a lot of good people. Bad things don't stop - in my Senior year, the Beltway Sniper made his way to Manassas. People were petrified to pump gas. Several school events were shifted or cancelled so they could happen in the daylight rather than at night.  I also missed many days of school as a result of an arteriovenous malformation of my right temporal lobe. (a medical condition in my brain that can cause fatal aneurisms). I learned that living with fear is a waste of time, energy, and life.

As I quickly approach becoming a parent myself, I still have that sense of how powerful evil can be. I've encountered enough death, tragedy, and disaster in my 26 years of life that I've taken on a more "what will be will be" attitude toward life. My sense of justice is still very much present and I don't often get upset about things I can't control. However, I don't want my baby girl to be as cold as I am. I want her to know hope and optimism. I don't want anyone to hurt her. I want to keep her safe.

I personally didn't know anyone who died on September 11th. I do know that David's dad would have died if he didn't take a smoke break that morning. I know that I was on a plane 4 days before the attack happened and I've been on a plane many times since. I know the huge swell of patriotism that occured after that day was beautiful and inspiring. I know many heroes died that day. I know my God is a loving God.

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