A year ago, I got up early in the morning and took some dishes to the kitchen to wash. Tyler was going to come over before class and we'd walk together, and he also needed to use the computers in the basement to print off some notes. I don't remember what time it was. I was spraying my plate when Cassie walked in, and asked me "did you hear about the plane crashes?"
So she told me what was happening. I didn't have a TV (still don't), so I went down to the TV room in the basement with her. Suzi, Cassie's 50 year-old roommate, was already there. That's how we came to be the first ones to know--Suzi had sons in New York. One of them had called her. Another had not (she heard from him later in the day, thankfully).
I got there just after the second plane hit the second trade. We just sat there, not knowing what to say, watching pillars of smoke billow out of the wreckage of towers as the newscasters fumbled for words. I watched the Manhattan bridges become masses of people running in fear.
Tyler had arrived by that time. I yanked him off the computer and told him what had happened. We watched together for about 10 minutes, and then I ran upstairs and pounded on Travis' door. He answered in his sweatpants, hair all weird and bleary. "Turn on your TV right NOW." He did. He and Tyler and Josh and Cassie and I just stood there and watched as people died. Saw the towers fall. Heard that the Pentagon had been struck and started to get rivulets of fear and anger in my bones, but mostly sadness.
And unbelievably, I went to class. I had a lab at 10:30 for Zoology, which was 1:30 Eastern Standard, so much of what happened that day already happened. When I walked into the room, 5 minutes before class, it was one of my most striking memories. I usually arrived early and was the first person into the madhouse. This time, virtually every other person in the class except for Tyler, Travis, Cassie, and I was already there, sitting in a seat, nothing unpacked, starting straight ahead. Nobody made any eye contact. Nobody said a single world. Nobody even held anything in their hands. Matt, our TA, was sitting at his desk in the exact same posture, a stack of ungraded papers in the corner. A radio in the corner, broadcasting the event, was the only sound. The room looked frozen.
I didn't hang a flag out today, or stick patriotic bumper stickers to my car. The people that died a year ago didn't die for America. They died because they were trying to go to work and earn an honest living, or visit their loved ones, or any one of the thousands of innocent tasks being carried out by the victims. Just trying to live their lives, which, blessedly, we can do to some extent in this country. I don't feel a flag symbol displays any sort of solidarity for me, even if it does for others, which is fine.
My thoughts about today are disjointed and without organization. I found that I have a fathomless sense of gratitude and love for the show of support and strength from other nations at this time. We are unimaginably lucky to have such people in the world that adopt such a loss as a loss to all the world.
I found that I had a pretty black wave of anger for the professor that waltzed into class today and cheerily asked "tired of September 11th yet?". I couldn't think of anything to say against that terrible statement. Is that what this was? Some inconvienient fad that we can grow bored with and cast aside? This was a loss for all time, and I know that I will remember this date for the rest of my life...and live it well, out of respect for those that lost that gift.
Candles burn in the window tonight, even though I will never have enough to make a light as great as the ones put out a year ago today.