Eleven years ago today, I was a junior in college. I was sitting in my class that morning, when the professor’s daughter put her head in and said “a plane hit the World Trade Center”. It was a computer class, so immediately we all started trying to log on to our favorite news sites to see what was going on. None of us could get more than the most basic headline to load. We left class (maybe early, I don’t remember) and I remember joining a crowd of students standing in the university center, staring up at a small television that was showing the footage. We still weren’t sure what had happened exactly. I went on to my next class, where the professor proceeded to inform us that, despite the morning’s events, we were having class as normal. I was grateful for that – it helped keep me for freaking out about it.
I don’t really remember much of the rest of that day. I remember bits and pieces of the weeks and months after… I remember standing again in the university center sometime after and watching President Bush speak, again in a crowd of people. I remember many conversations with my roommates about the state of things, and politics and what we would do if Oak Ridge was attacked (I was in Chattanooga at the time).
I also remember how much I missed having those roommates around when I was in grad school and one of the anniversaries came around. I missed the shared experience of watching the news and talking about it, and of simply having someone there.
I struggle with these kinds of anniversaries. I always have. I can’t bring myself to watch all the dozens of documentaries that have been on television over the last week – it’s too intense and too much voyeurism for me to watch the something like the special made up of the phone calls of those who were on the planes and in the towers. Those conversations were meant for their loved ones, not me. The same with the other specials. I still remember and see the footage clearly in my mind. I don’t need to relive those moments.
So, today I will be scarce on social media and try not to listen too closely to NPR on my commute and I will think especially of those who lost a loved one today and honor this day in my own quiet way.