I was just kid when it happened and I don’t remember much. I had spend the night before at a hospital having my first of many liver biopsy. I didn’t tell a soul but people had notice that I had been absent the day before. I got to school early to run the 4 miles on the track like every morning. As someone in their teens, I didn’t care much for news in the morning. I wasn’t until I someone told me that the Pentagon had been bombed as I was walking to my class.
I brushed it off as prank.
As I walked by I heard murmurs and whispers, people giving me the stink eye and pointing. The Friday prior I had broken up with a “girlfriend.” (Can you even call it that when in high school?) We had been together for a year, on and off. It was going to be odd as I had missed the day prior, people knew I had broken up with her and we had several classes together. People had already chosen sides. I just wanted to get it over.
I saw people out of the corner out my eye take out two TVs from the closet and try to jury rig atennas from paper clips to get the news. It’s odd looking back because it was an English class with networked computers, yet no one was on them. The class revolved in researching and becoming familiar with writing, looking up information online. No one use them to look up news online, everyone was glued to the tv or those that had walkmen (yeah old school CD players) were listening to the radio. It goes to show you how information and media has changed in 10 years.
I didn’t understand what was happening. I was selfishly in my own little head with my own problems. I could’t comprehend why people where so emotional for other people that they had no connection with.
I was pulled aside by a friend of my ex. She yelled and hollered for what seemed forever about the break up. My mind drifted to its own thing but made it seem like I was preoccupied with what was happening on the snowy, statically image on the TV screen. This was the case until the uttered the phrase, “She’s pregnant.”
Quickly snapped back in to reality… I knew I had been safe and refuted the allegations. Looked around if someone had heard our conversation. People did. It also didn’t help that my ex was in a corner crying and being comforted by a few classmates.
Gossip spread like wildfire throughout the classroom. First by word of mouth… then I saw those more privileged starting to text (this 2001, cellphones were not that prevalent in school like it is now). The ex stood up after a while and announced that it was true. More text messages went out, by lunch the school knew.
I kept my composure during the rest of the period. By 2nd period the alleged pregnancy story had been “confirm” by a friend that had been there when the ex took a home test, sparking more drama. She made this day into drama drawing attention away from what was happening. Then came nutrition, it was the first time ever that I felt alone. This was months before my knee injury and being treated for depression. This might have been the beginning of it. I spend those 30 minutes in the weight room as to avoid drama.
It wasn’t until third period when 9/11 really became real, at least for me. It was US history class and the teacher was the defense coach for the football team. A big guy, 6’3, 250, from Texas… hard republican. From time to time, he would make us watch the O’Riley Factor, “To keep us informed of current events.” The class also had a TV and the same paper clip jury rig solution was being used to get any broadcast. I walked in to the classroom about 10 minutes late, it wasn’t uncommon for me, as a jock I was given a lot of slack from teachers. Murmurs started once again… 15 minutes later, they were no longer murmurs, it was full blown chatter and gossip to the point that the teacher got involved.
We are under attack!
I’m letting you watch TV to be informed. There are still two planes in the air a 747 headed to LA and another head to San Francisco. They could be very be used against us. Shut up, watch, and listen or I’ll turn the TV off- we’ll open our books and continue our lesson from yesterday,”
It was a slap in the face for everyone. We were young, and gossip is entertaining but no other teacher had told us how much this day was different. Perspectives changed.
It wasn’t until 5th Period that this “slap” and perspective wore off, by someone coming up threatening me that it was going to be his job to make sure I would pay child support. I skipped 6th period and I went home soon after as soccer practice was cancelled.
It’s sad that this how I remember 9/11.
A few days later she went to a clinic with several people to take a pregnancy test. When results came back as not being pregnant, she was ridiculed for weeks.
In December of 2003 I moved to New York. I worked at The Millennium Hilton right across Ground Zero. I would see it every day. A constant reminder. I wasn’t able to understand when it happened but in a way forced myself to understand and experience it first hand like every New Yorker.
Today I went back to Ground Zero… but I didn’t call it that, I called it Freedom Tower. Yes, there is place where many died, and I will remember that.
We will remember. We will be overcome. We will not live in fear.
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