Last week I was inspired to write. I haven’t written more than a to-do list or a thank you card since I graduated with an English degree in December of 2011. I learned of my “knack” for writing in high school. I have my high school English teacher to thank for her endless hand outs and excessive mark ups on all of my assignments. It wasn’t until college that I learned to enjoy writing; with the exception of when it came to a six page paper on Greek Mythology or a twelve page paper on various nonsensical topics, or so it seemed at the time. Since the freedom of my educational career, I have still found myself creatively writing in my head – about people I encounter on the train, my opinion on our ever changing world and even about my own simple, but growing life; until last Tuesday evening, when my husband and I had the realization that the following morning marked the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. And so I write…
Twelve years ago, I was having as ordinary of a day as any sixth grader would have. Waking up on a beautiful, late summer morning – the kind you wish you weren’t already back in school for – throwing on a private school jumper and itchy knee socks, that I knew would later cause me to stick to a chair of 6B, with the lack of air conditioning, and scurrying off to school. My entire day was smooth and thoughtless as I went from Religion class to Science class, to lunch, recess and a few others I can’t remember twelve years later, until approximately 2:30 in the afternoon.
It was a Tuesday. I remember the day because my older cousin was running in the primary election for the first time for Medford City Council. My family and I were active in her campaign and would hold signs throughout the summer; on this day, my parents would help by holding a sign of hers at select voting stations, one of which was located across the street from our pick up location for school. And that’s where I found out. My father was waiting, as well as a few other parents at that pick up location, all anxious to see us; they all had the same look on their faces. My father had a large sign in his hand. The car was still running with the radio blasting but he was outside of it; the radio wasn’t playing music of any kind. One door was open and one of his feet resting on the car, while the rest of his body leaned on the door of the car, still holding a sign. None of us got asked, “How was your day at school today?” like we did on every ordinary day. Instead we had a frantic stream of questions and orders spit out at us in a matter of seconds: “Are you okay?” “Did you hear what happened?” “Get in the car.” “We need to get you home.”
The mind of an eleven-year old girl does not comprehend the word “hijacking,” as I did not on this ordinary Tuesday of the first week of sixth grade. My first thought was, “A plane crashed into a large building. What an awful accident.” The innocent mind of my eleven year old self could not fathom the thoughts that someone would ever be so evil to do something of the sort with intention. It wasn’t until I was home when I couldn’t watch TV or listen to the radio without hearing about what had happened in New York City and Washington, D.C. six hours prior. Our house was in the quiet part of Medford, a suburb close enough to the city you can see its skyline. On an ordinary day, we could hear commercial planes flying high up above our house fairly often; soft enough for no disturbance, but loud enough for recognition. On September 11, 2001, when I returned home from school, there were no planes above my house. For a short time, I felt like I was in some other realm of my universe that was still so small. The sky was chillingly silent, but the temperature from the sun with the right amount of breeze that day, was perfect. The only television stations not broadcasting the events of 9/11 were Disney and Nickelodeon and I was approaching the age where some of those shows were inferior of my capacity. I couldn’t escape the nightmare our country was going through, even though I felt so disconnected from all of it. I had no friends or relatives in either city at the time. We didn’t know anyone heading out of Logan Airport for a trip that week either. I had never visited New York City; I barely knew the buildings of my own city.
Twelve years later, it is not just another day, although I think some have tried to turn it back into such, as time is passing. It seems like last week Logan had no problem of making it an ordinary Wednesday in September, as they followed through on an emergency drill with a smoking plane on the runway, as families of victims from Flight 11 and Flight 175, were remembering their loved ones lost on that tragic day.
It wasn’t until the past two or three years that 9/11 has really begun to impact my life. Initially as the years passed, I still felt disconnected. It wasn’t until Brendan was overseas during its anniversary for the second time when I felt the imprint of these events. It had been exactly a month since I moved out on my own, without Brendan. Working many long days at the salon, I encountered all walks of people and it was constant; learning about clients’ lives and families and their most recent trips. I spent eleven hours at the desk last year on September 11 alongside at least seven coworkers. Arriving home to an empty apartment without having a single recognition of what day it was, brought upon an overwhelming amount of emotions. How could my husband be risking his life for all of these people who do not even acknowledge how that day was the beginning of most of it? I connected. The feelings of separation were slipping away. And so I began to tightly grasp everything I could from that event.
Maybe it was because this was the first major tragic event that I witnessed in my lifetime. Or maybe it was because I have such close ties with the military now, who has been fighting a war because of that day. At first I didn’t know why I couldn’t help but refer to Google looking for answers.
Last week I was inspired to write. As I sat on the couch with my husband, two months after he was discharged from serving four active years to defend our nation, I finally understood. Good always conquers evil. There are days when we have our doubts, but if we wait a few hours, or days, or years, we will comprehend it. Looking back to a matter of hours after the World Trade Centers collapsed, the heroes that came out to help is the good in which our nation can pride itself. As are those that went into those buildings as their minutes to ruination were ticking. And now I can look at the person living amongst me and think of how lucky and blessed I am. He helps connect me to 9/11. He is the good, in the evil of that day; serving because of the evil. So how can this ever be just an ordinary day in our family when he emulates the patriotism, honor, strength and bravery that is a direct result of the events of 9/11?
I am patriotically blessed; to be able to connect with and appreciate the heroes in our country. Please shake their hands, thank them. Or do a good deed for them.
And so I write…how in our family, it will never be just another day.