September 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Family, Me, Transylvania | 14 Comments
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Ten years ago, I was in the basement of my office building working on a presentation for a staff meeting. I watched the second plane hit the South Tower on a small television next to a haphazard stack of computers and recording equipment. I watched both towers collapse. My first thought was relief — relief that at least they’d had time to get everyone out.

But I was wrong, of course. There hadn’t been enough time. Not nearly enough.

In the days that followed, I felt what everyone else felt. Horror. Disbelief. Sadness. Fear. Unity. I read and watched everything I could, as if internalizing every word of every tribute of every person who had died would somehow make the unfathomable loss more meaningful, less heinous.

Ten years later, I find myself in a foreign country. I’m sitting on my couch watching yesterday’s college football games. The dog is keeping me company while my children are at their preschool open house. They’re introducing their grandfather to Miss Corina and Miss Emoke. They’re proudly pointing out their construction-paper cats and finger-painted solar systems. They’re singing songs about ducks and friends and sharing.

It’s a normal day for us, here. It’s a normal day for the people in this country, who have plenty of their own tragedies to commemorate, just not on this day. It’s a normal day for Americans, Romanians, all of us.

Well, it feels normal.

But I remember. I remember 10 years ago. I know that normal is a disguise, a coping mechanism, a blessing. And I won’t forget.

Where were you 10 years ago? What “normal” things are you doing today? How will you remember?


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  1. We were watching GMA when it all happened. At first no one had an idea what happened ….then the second plane hit. I will never forget the details of that day. Like you, I was glued to watch all the stories unfolding ….feeling that it was my small way of paying tribute to all those that lost their life. We will always remember them and the day our world changed.

  2. I was at home, getting ready to take my oldest (3 at that time) to his first day of preschool. I almost didn’t take him, but they didn’t cancel school, so to the church we went. It was eerily silent; no air traffic, the malls closed down, and I couldn’t bear to leave, so I sat in the car and listened to the news…devastating.

    One month later, we resolved a family spat with Joe’s family and made the plan to move to Lebanon to be closer to his parents. 9/11 was a tragedy in so many ways, but like everything else, there was good to come out it, too. You said it: unity. The pride of being an American. Pride in our nation, in the bravery of our firefighters, paramedics, and others who sacrificed their lives to help others.

    I was so glad to see my kids’ schools paying special tribute this past Friday. My kids are too little to remember, but we can help teach them so the lessons of this tragedy don’t need to be learned again by their generation. That’s the hope, right?

  3. […] 11: Anniversaries. It’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s been one month since I broke my leg. And it’s been three months since our […]

  4. 10 years ago my alarm clock woke me up and I flipped on the TV for some background noise to see the first tower in flames. I sat glued to the television set and saw the second plane hit and then the towers crumple and fall. Somehow I made my way to work only to watch it online until my manager told us to just go home.

    Today, I saw with my three boys and watched the CNN footage as it unfolded that day. For some reason I felt it important for them to see, to know, to understand the history and how it unfolded. The two older ones were too young to remember but they watched today.

    And I did a lot of laundry.

  5. I was a first-year law student at UCLA. I was living with a crazy British man in a rent-controlled apartment, overlooking my lack of personal safety for the unbelievable $300some price tag on my own room. In Westwood.

    I was asleep until I turned on the TV. I thought I was still asleep for many moments after that.

    Today, I understood there was very unlikely apt to be a 10-year anniversary attack. And yet, flying back to L.A. with my son, I felt a bit apprehensive. And I wondered, too, what it had to feel like for those passengers when they knew they’d never set foot on land again. With tears in my eyes I hugged my little one, who knew nothing more traumatic than want of Daddy’s iPad, on which Yo Gabba Gabba episodes are stored . . .

  6. I went running to my kids’ school. Do I take them out? Leave them there? What was going on? The confusion of the day lingers in that memory.

  7. I blogged about where I was too.

    Yesterday was a busy day – church, birthday parties, shopping, dinner, laundry – but once Munchie was in bed I sat down to watch one of the 10-year anniversary shows. Hubs didn’t want to, saying it was too sad. But I wanted to watch. I felt like I SHOULD feel sad, I SHOULD remember, I SHOULD still cry for all those people and their families.

  8. I was teaching my 2nd period freshman World Religions class at a prep school in Massachusetts. (The topic? The concept of jihad in Islam.) We didn’t know what had happened until we got to the regularly scheduled 3rd period assembly at 9:30 when the head of school made an announcement and we watched some of the footage as a school. I had moved from Manhattan the year before and my thoughts went instantly to my brother and my friends who worked in lower Manhattan. Remarkably, all of them survived. But none was unchanged, and the normal that we all live is a new one, as it is for you.

  9. I was in a Downtown Dallas office building on the 44th floor. After the second plane hit, our building was evacuated. Surreal, still, even 10 years later.

  10. I was in Italy on my honeymoon.

    Yesterday, I let Dan watch all the commemorative TV he wanted. I ran around shopping, went to church, had dinner with the in-laws. I kept a moment of silence and listened to my priest talk about forgiveness.

    Yeah, forgiveness.

    It was a normal day. What passes for normal, now, 10 years later.

  11. Dan and I had just entered the Steaming Bean coffee shop downtown, looking for an electrician we knew would be sipping coffee there. And then we heard something on the radio which sounded so preposterous. And then we went to our neighbor’s house who had TV and started to learn how real it all was.

    ps: how are your spirits?

    • My spirits are okay, thanks for asking. I started physical therapy, which is tough but good. At least now I feel like I’m working toward something, instead of just sitting here taking up space. And my knee is now the size of a small grapefruit instead of a watermelon. That, friend, is a substantial improvement! =>

  12. I was by myself at first, at home watching the news and then when I got to my 10-am shift at the restaurant that I managed, we were slammed. Chicago buildings sent many people home from the Loop that day so our quiet afternoons at the restaurant became like our nights. All the tables were filled except we only still had the two servers for the lunch rush. Service was slow but no one complained. Everyone was too busy trying to come together to process the event. Plus who could think of service on a day like that?

    I was grateful for the busy work because it kept my mind from the image of the falling towers. It breaks my heart every time.

  13. Was it hard to be away on the anniversary? There was extensive coverage of memorial events here that day. I was in Japan on the actual 9/11. I remember watching the late night news – CNN morning news with the time zone differences – and I was completely baffled by the fires. At the time even the announcers didn’t know what had happened. My brother lived/lives in NYC and I tried calling him again and again but the lines were jammed. I finally got a text message from him and he was ok. My American boss called me a few minutes later. It was hard, because the next day life was normal back at work. The Japanese were very sympathetic, but they couldn’t feel the excruciation that we felt as Americans. It was hard to find many people to really talk about it with.

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