Sunday, September 11, 2011

In which I remember

View of Manhattan from a helicopter, flying over Upper New York Bay.Image via WikipediaI slept through the whole thing.

On Tuesdays my first semester of college I only had one class, in the afternoon. I usually slept in.

My suite was pretty much deserted. My roommate was gone. I got up late, flicked on Comedy Central (which did not have any kind of news ticker or break-in), and watched TV before taking my shower.

I got back, only to be locked out of my room. In a towel. My roommate was due back from her class soon, so I figured I just had to wait. Then she opened the door.

"Why didn't you just knock?" she asked me.

"You're not supposed to be done class yet."

"They let us out early."

"Oh." Awkward pause. We didn't really get along. "Did you just finish early or something?"

She was pissed. "You mean you didn't hear?"

That one class was philosophy. The professor told us that he didn't feel like teaching, but we could sit around and talk about what happened if we wanted to. He ended up teaching anyway. I guess you can't escape philosophy.

When I wasn't in class, I called or emailed whomever I could. Yes, I know, Philadelphia was never on anyone's mind the whole day, but still -- it would have been nice to receive one of those calls. Not my lot in life, though.

I went to the service that night. During the moment of silence, a squirrel darted out of the trees and into the crowd. Rumor had it that some girl got bitten, but I beleive that rumor was debunked.

Later, someone pulled the fire alarm. Assholes. We stood around. Some people panicked. "I smell smoke!" a few girls cried. Well, of course they did. Easily 75% of the students in our building had their cigaettes out.

I didn't know anyone. I didn't even know anyone who did. I missed the whole thing and the people I cared about were safe. It didn't touch me. And guilt -- survivor's, liberal's, whatever -- is one of the things that can knock me down.

Ten years.

My life is not much like it was before September 11, 2001... and very few of the changes are due to the attacks. I made friends through a debate about the war, but the club holding those debates would have been formed regardless, I think. I went through a string of boyfriends before finding Chris. I started seeing the school counselor; I now have an official diagnosis. I live in the very city that felt the attacks hardest.

I never saw the towers in real life. The first time I had been to New York was in December of 2001.

I never saw the towers. I slept through the attacks. I never knew anyone involved. As horrible as it is to say it, my life was not directly affected. Sure, it was peripherally; there's no one on the planet who wasn't affected peripherally, and certainly no American.

But I don't understand why I still cry for these strangers, but not for the dear friend and surrogate grandfather I lost a few years later. I don't understand why I mourn an institution I never saw more than the church I was baptised and raised in.

Here's an interesting thought, though. The casualties of September 11, 2001... they've been immortalized.

They had been from the very moment the first plane hit. So the terrorists really fucked up, didn't they?

As tragic as it was, though, it was rare. We're so lucky it's rare. We live in fear that it will happen again, but other people in this world live in *certainty* that it will happen again, to them.

You know, Chris's mother's birthday is September 10, and my father's is September 12. So really, September 11 should be a day of joint celebration of life. I think I'd like that.

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