Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Memory of Today

I'm not sure I want to write this, even as I'm doing it. There's already so much about today and its history. Websites, blogs, television shows, news stories are being dedicated to what happened 10 years ago. I don't have anything profound to add. I know it changed me somehow, but I don't know in what way. Not for sure. I was thousands of miles away. It's less concrete for me than the people that were there, who lost loved ones, who have scars and holes in their lives. Those who mourn for real. But it did mean something and it does mean something. For what it's worth, this is my memory of September 11, 2001.

My boyfriend at the time had spent the night on the 10th, we were leaving in two days for a friend's wedding in Hawaii. He had gone home that morning to get ready for work and I went back to sleep, only to be woken by him calling me ten minutes later. "Turn on the TV." Why? "Just do it. DO IT!!" By the time the west coast was awake and aware of what was happening, both towers had fallen. We knew it was a terrorist attack. We woke up in fear. And shock.

D was in kindergarten. The other parents and I stood around in silence. We didn't know how to talk about it. Or how to tell our kids. If to tell them. She found out shortly that planes had crashed. But to her, blissfully, New York might as well have been another country. And the planes toy planes. I didn't watch the news when she was in the room. She didn't know that there was horror or evil. She didn't understand any of it until it was taught as part of a history class in seventh grade. We've only recently talked about it.

I think the eeriest part for me was the silence. I don't live in a large city, I don't even think about planes flying over me daily. I hardly notice them. But I noticed then. The silence was deafening. It was like the world stopped.

There was no trip to Hawaii so we decided to take advantage of the days we had off to go to Victoria, B.C. I'd never been and I would have fallen in love with it anyway, it's a beautiful city, but I especially love it because I was there in the days after. There were signs everywhere - theater marquees, restaurant signs, church boards. "God bless our US neighbors." "Keep America in your prayers." There was a memorial set up in front of the Parliament Building with flowers, cards and candles and we stopped by there every day to pay our own tribute. We felt loved and accepted, part of a new community and something bigger than ourselves. I will never forget how I felt that weekend. If there was a perfect place to be during a time filled with fear and sadness, Victoria was it. I would never do it any differently.

Coming home was not fun. We waited in a line of cars for three hours to cross the border. They asked us where we'd been and why. What had we done. Where specifically had we gone? They went through our suitcases, looked under the seats of the car. This was home? This is who we are? We don't trust each other now? Canada had waved us in so friendly. We weren't welcomed home.

Maybe that's what I miss the most. Trust. That we've become divided more than ever. An event that should have united us more than ever has had the opposite effect, in the long run. That's the saddest part. I still love us though. U.S. We're damaged. Still. We're hurt and that's why we act like we do. We need to remember that we're better than this. We can do better. Right?

I hope so. And I can't be the only one.


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