Sunday, September 11, 2011

reflections on 9/11

It was my senior year at Utah State. I had just gotten out of the shower and turned on the radio as I was getting ready for class. Even then my radio was always set to NPR. I don't remember exactly what I heard - something about a terrorist attack on New York City but I didn't even know what the World Trade Center was at the time. I hurried and got dressed while engrossed in what I was hearing. In the living room I found my roommates already in front of the tv - we sat and watched in horror at the footage of collapsing buildings, missing planes and human suffering. I was late for my morning class but the professor didn't start on time. I remember that at the beginning of class he said something like, "I don't know if you have all seen the news today but there is currently a no fly zone over the United States". It was so strange to hear the events that I had seen on the news wrapped up into this simple statement.

I filled up my gas tank that night. It seemed like a good time to have a full tank of gas. And people were saying that gas prices might go up - as if that were the most important thing to worry at a time when gas prices were close to a dollar. But it was something to do. Something to do when there was nothing to do. It was all too much to take in.

This past week, I've found myself contemplating how the events of 9/11 have affected me. And I think that the most telling moment was a few weeks ago, when there was an earthquake in DC. What? you may say, there was an earthquake on the east coast? how haven't I heard about this? Yes, it was truly overblown in the media. But in that moment when the building around me was shaking, I wasn't thinking earthquake, I was thinking bomb/explosion/attack. My current office is located between the White House and the Capital and when the ground began to shake and the immediate confusion passed I got this deep pit in my stomach, my muscles clenched and I thought of 9/11. As the rumbling continued, I thought "I didn't hear anything, I would have heard something" something more than rumbling, I was searching my memory for a bang, a roar. It turned out to be nothing more than a minor earthquake but in that moment I was preparing myself to experience some of what I watched on 9/11.

This morning  I was on my way to church with just enough time to get there on time when my exit was blocked and before I knew it I was crossing the river into the District. I should have known better. My route goes right past the Pentagon. I spent the next hour fighting my way back to Virginia. I was an hour late to church but an hour well spent. My detour took me through the tidal basin. Past the Jefferson Monument. And while stuck in ridiculous traffic I listened to NPR's special coverage of the anniversary and listened to accounts of people at the pentagon that day. It was rather fitting.

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