Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11/2001: A ten year remembrance.

To be honest, I struggled with whether or not to post anything on this day. I thought about just putting up a general "moment of silence" blog entry. But you know what? I've had countless moments of silence over 9/11. And to be honest, I think that keeping silent is the last thing we should do when it comes to this particular anniversary.

In the past ten years, our country has floundered, begun to bounce back, and floundered again. Those of us who were alive and old enough to remember 9/11 will never forget where we were. We will always be affected - at the very least, we will be reminded of what has changed because of that day every time we fly. And to be honest, the generation that I belong to - and those within a few years of it - have been affected in yet another way. We have watched our friends and family members go off to fight a seemingly pointless fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of those friends and family members have been lost. Others have been changed forever - and not in a good way.

I started this blog late last year, so I know that I've never written about my 9/11 experience. Not here, anyway. And if I've written about it before, period, it was at least 5 years ago.

It is beyond difficult to believe that today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11. That 10 years ago today, I was a naive 18-year-old girl who for the first time in her life was truly away from home. As in hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home, living on my own, with no real personal concerns and no clue how to deal with a national tragedy like what happened that day.

It feels as if I've lived a lifetime since then...and maybe I have, because I don't think my life truly started until I did the college program...and I associate my first CP with 9/11, of course. How could I not? We had stayed up late the night before; I didn't have to work until 1 PM. I slept in until maybe 9 AM, but eventually there was a commotion in the living room that woke me up. I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the kitchen to pour a bowl of cereal. I got as far as putting the cereal in the bowl, uncapping and beginning to pour the milk, when I realized what I was seeing on the TV.

They were replaying - over and over again - the footage of the first plane hitting the tower. My roommate and close friend Kim was sitting on the couch, stunned, her mouth hanging open.

Without even realizing it, I poured half the jug of milk into my cereal bowl and consequently all over the counter.

The "moment" was broken when Kim launched herself over the back of our couch and said something along the lines of "The World Trade Center has collapsed and the Pentagon has just been hit!" She was on her way for her phone - presumably to call her family - and my breakfast was forgotten as I rushed to do the same. Thankfully everyone I knew was fine - the luck of being from somewhere two and a half hours from NYC - but that wasn't the end of this horrific day.

For only the second time in its history, Walt Disney World was closed. That means that my friends who were already at work - including my good buddy Joel - were helping to clear people out of the park. For the rest of us, that meant a day off. A day to reflect, to worry. And we did that for quite some time. We watched the news. We visited our neighbors. We talked about the evacuation procedures used by the parks. And eventually, we gave in and did the last thing we knew how to do - we partied.

Was that the best choice? Probably not. But at that point it was all we had left. And it was what we did best.

And when that day was over, I met Ex. Had 9/11 never happened, I wouldn't have met him. Not like that. Not enough for us to end up what we became.

No one will ever forget September 11, 2001 - because no one would allow it to be forgotten. I wouldn't want to forget it, anyway, because what happened that day shaped who I am right now. Imagine being eighteen and lost in your own little world, and then forced to grow up in one day.

I know I wasn't the only one affected by 9/11. Everyone was affected in different ways, and this is me.

I worked for Disney World when 9/11 occurred. I was far away from my family and friends; worried, scared, and nearly alone.

If it hadn't been for a girl named Kim, I'm not sure I would have lasted through my College Program.  Not after this tragedy.

If 9/11 hadn't happened, Ex and I never would have been thrown in each other's paths. EVER.

And in the years since then, I have watched friends and family be deployed to the Middle East. Thankfully I haven't lost anyone, but I know people who have - in one way or another.

Ten years ago, my life - our lives - were changed forever. But again, I don't agree with being silent over this. I think that would be what they want from us.

Don't give up. Never give in.


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