Reminding Myself Why It’s Important To Remember

I debated whether to do this. I wasn’t going to. I did a “serious post” yesterday, as if that should be an excuse. But that’s not the reason, it’s just what I told myself this morning to make myself feel better. Then I read all your wonderful posts about 9/11 and temporarily reconfirmed that I wasn’t going to post about it. Other people have done a better job, have had much more significant experiences with this, have much better things to write about.

But the truth is, my 9/11 story is kind of embarrassing to me. I don’t want to write about it, because it isn’t anything I can be proud of. But I’m going to write about it anyway, because I want to be honest with you guys about who I am, and where I’ve come from. I don’t want to shy away from things because they are too serious, just because I prefer a lighthearted post. I’d rather talk about John Mayer or my recent vacation but FIRST I should at least pay my respects, so to speak.

I remember where I was. It was still in the first few weeks of my first year of college. I was young and naive and silly. I had a world view of about five inches in front of my terribly thick skull. I knew next to nothing, which is sad for a pretty smart person. It’s sadder for someone who went on to run the school newspaper. That morning was supposed to be my first day of my business 101 class. And I was kind of loathing it, even though I’d already lucked out and it had been canceled the week before also. It should have been obvious to me then that I didn’t really want to be a business major and was only doing it because it “looked good on paper.” Bad reason right?

So I overslept, and I ran to class, trying not be late so early in my college career. I got there and it was kind of pandemonium, but I didn’t know why – it was the first day, I had no idea what to expect. And it was my first class of the day because I like to sleep late (still do). Back then I was lucky and didn’t have a job or a 2 year old telling me what time to wake up. I was still a kid.

I heard in a grape vine kind of way that class was canceled. I didn’t bother asking myself why so many people were still hanging around, I simply turned around and walked back to my dorm. I ran into a roommate I think, I don’t really remember. We talked about going to the beach instead, it was still warm for September. We went to the dorm first to find swim suits I think. Somewhere along the walk, the truth began to leak out. I began to hear bits and pieces of what was going on, but being an ignorant naive 17 year old I didn’t care yet. Something bad happened, but not here. Okay. Beach?

By the time we got to the dorm it was becoming more real, but only in the sense that it wasn’t over and it might reach me after all. It might have something to do with me. My roommates and I began thinking about what we could do for US – we still hadn’t turned on a TV. Why watch the news? We were young and pretty. We had funner things to think about. So after surveying the room and deciding that we had enough water to last at least 6 months (bottled water is useful?) and tons of Ramen Noodles – and one of my two roommates was a nursing major – we decided we were probably competent enough to be of use in a disaster. And we went about our day.

I walked back to campus, still not sure if my next class would be canceled (it wasn’t, but it wasn’t mandatory to go – basically if you had “nothing better to do, you could come and talk about what was going on, but if you had a family emergency, etc. you wouldn’t be marked up for not showing up). But it was somewhere between the walk to class and getting there that I turned my fool head in the direction of a TV and SAW what was going on. I then promptly decided it was too scary and turned it away and walked to class (seriously).

Somewhere over the course of that day I grew up a little. By the end of the year I grew up a lot. At some point I decided I had to care about what was going on around me. It had to matter. The next year I joined the school paper, eventually ran the news department and eventually ran the paper. I still don’t like reading “boring news” but I try to catch headlines and Care. I try to remind myself that it matters and it affects me and just watching the weather or reading the comics probably won’t give me the full scope of what’s going on.

Eventually I learned just reading the college or even local or American paper might not be truly enough to see the whole picture – especially where politics and global events are concerned. But by the time I learned that, I also became a mother and learned reading the whole news (online now) could be just as destructive as it could be constructive. It could have me lying awake at night terrified to go to sleep, talking myself down from running to my son’s room and sleeping by his side all night. Because at the end of the day, when it’s not still a little bit all about me, it’s about him.

Point is, I remember, but I’m not proud. So in a way, I try to forget so I can like me again. But I think it’s important maybe to remember, to remind myself why I’ve grown and why I’m better where I am now than where I was then.

4 Comments

  1. I was only 15 when 9/11 happened. 10th grade. I don’t think I would have known or cared so much about it if it didn’t affect every single person I know in the way of being in the Army. We were locked down in school for hours because we live on a huge Army base. Rumors leaked that our dads&moms would be deploying the very next day. It was scary but I understand why you acted the way you did. I’m sure I would have been the same way if it wasn’t thrown in my face.

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  2. I’m with Jen (above; probably b/c I was 16 when the Challenger exploded, so in her words omigodiamsoold) – it’s enough that you recognize how it changed you and understand the impact of that day enough to want to honor it. Don’t ever feel like your words or your voice don’t do something justice or that you’re just saying stuff someone else already said “better.” What are we honoring by remembering that day if we don’t value ourselves, too?

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  3. Jen, I understand why you might feel ashamed about how you dealt with 9/11, but I don’t think you should beat yourself up over it. You were 17. In my opinion, it’s pretty normal at that age to not see past your own small world. I was that age when the space shuttle Challenger exploded (omigodiamsoold!); I remember understanding it was a big deal but not really WHY. It would be years before I really “got” the effect it had on the US space program. I think the important thing is that you can now recognize the immaturity you had at 17 and honor 9/11 on its anniversaries, however you choose to do it. (IMHO, of course)

    I think your honesty should be commended.

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