Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9/11

It's actually a day that I don't really want to remember. It's one of those days where everybody asks, "Where were you?" So I'll tell you my 'where were you' moment.

I was actually sitting in Mrs. Heuisler's 11th grade English class. I actually liked Mrs. Heuisler probably because she liked my writing and she had introduced me to this great magazine, The New Yorker, which I had never heard of before.

She loved reading that magazine and posted the colorful, cartoon covers all around the room.

Anyway, so I thought it was weird that so many teachers were in the hallway. They were walking fast and I found that odd as I thought to myself, "Shouldn't they be teaching right now?!" But I minded my business.

The dean of the school, Ms. Webb came in and told us we were having an emergency morning meeting in the gymnasium. Figures.

With a podium set up in the middle of the gym and all of the students from Lower School, Middle School and Upper School waiting to find out the news, my poised Head Mistress, Mrs. Brune, shared that terrorists had struck the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon had been hit in D.C. She urged us, especially if our parents worked in D.C., (many of our parents did, including my dad who worked on 17th and M Streets at the time) to call our loved ones to make sure they were okay. She also said school would be out for the rest of the day and to get home safely.

Now mind you, my mother was living in Africa at the time (don't ask) and my dad nor my sister's cell phone was working (my sister went to Howard then) so I really didn't know what to do...or really what I should do.

I ended up driving over to Robin's house, my best friend from church. They had all gotten out of school too and were glued to CNN, watching and re-watching the planes hit the towers.

Around 3 PMish, my dad finally called me back. I was really worried about him, being in D.C. and all...he told me that all of the commuter trains were cancelled; that there was no public transportation going in or out of D.C. The cabs weren't cooperating for any amount of money and he was currently hitchhiking with hundreds others on I-95. I screamed, "You're doing WHAT?!"

He replied calmly, "I'm walking home on 95. Should be there soon." I told him to call me in an hour. Now my dad is in good shape...but he's over 50 and no man should be walking in 80 degree heat down I-95! I found out later that some good Samaratin drove him back to Ellicott City where we lived.

I think my mother found out what happened hours later (you know, Africa time) and was freaking out. She eventually calmed down...we were safe; we were okay; we'd be fine.

I remember Mrs. Heuisler asking us to write down our reactions to 9/11 for a memorial service that we were going to have soon. The 'winner' would read their reaction in front of the entire school community. I really didn't want to win...really didn't think about winning but of course I won. I ended up having to read this in front of the whole school:

(Note: I couldn't find the orginial so this is a much shorter version, which is subject to my bad memory)

When I think about what happened recently in New York City, my mind drifts back to this past summer when I did a Summer Intensive at Alvin Ailey's Dance Troupe. One of the proudest moments in my life thus far, after mornings of ballet class and learning the art of Limon, I spent the afternoons wandering around New York by myself.

Sure, I had friends but something about walking the short blocks and long avenues of New York invigorates me (I'm sure my best friend thinks I'm silly when I say, "No that's okay. I'll walk by myself").

I remember walking down to the towers, they had a mall underneath and book store that I was dying to go to. I ended up buying (this is where my memory fails...I can't remember the title of the book but it's important later in the story but I can't remember it now so...oh well) and sat on a nearby bench reading it intently.

I spotted someone staring at me. Now ordinarily I would mind but this someone was tall, dark and handsome, grey suit, purple tie...and he was staring at me (did I mention that I had to read this in front of the ENTIRE school. Embarrassing!). I must have looked up with a facial expression that said, "What!" and he said, "Oh, I just finished that book (whatever the title is called), it's really good. How far have you gotten?" (I don't remember what I said because for the life of me I can't remember what I was reading! Argh!)

It was around 5 o'clock and by the way he was dressed I figured he had just come from his job in the towers. We politely said our goodbyes and that was the end of it.

When I heard about 9/11 I couldn't help but think about that well dressed, tall, dark and handsome man. Did he show up to work that day? Was he okay? Would he be alright? Were his coworkers, friends and family okay? Now...I didn't know this guy but I really hoped he was okay...because he was so nice to me that late summer afternoon.

(I don't remember how the story ends).