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Where I Was
There are two wishes I would take back in a heartbeat if I could. One of them is the wish that I could have a "I remember where I was" moment. To this day there are very few events in my life that still feel like claws gouging at my heart when I remember them. 9/11 is one of those days.
When I woke up that Tuesday morning, I was in my dorm room at Lyndon State College and I didn't have a class until six-thirty. So I decided to get some laundry done while I worked on a journal entry for English class.
In the morning I like to listen to music while I get ready so I had the radio on to the local station. As I threw my laundry into the bag the DJ read of the news articles for the day.
“And in New York, a plane crashed into the World Trade Center…”
It’s very important for me to explain this. The way the DJ read it was very fast pace and nonchalant. It certainly struck me as out of the ordinary, but as neutral as his voice was I figured it was a small plane that maybe lost an engine or had a stick malfunction. I knew there’d be something on TV because that sort of thing just doesn’t happen every day and the radio, for all it’s entertainment value, is basically background noise to keep the room from being too quiet.
I took my laundry to the basement and threw it in the machine. Then I brought my backpack upstairs into the lounge and that’s when something very odd struck me.
Two of the RA’s were milling around the doorway into the lounge. Inside there were a ton of students sitting around the room, glued to the TV. And on the television was the South Tower, smoke billowing from a very large, gaping hole in the side.
“What the hell?” I wondered out loud.
It didn’t take long to find out what was going on. A jetliner had crashed into the north tower.
Wow, I thought. That’s what the DJ was talking about.
I sat there writing in the notebook that served as my “journal” for class.
A plane has just hit the World Trade Center. I don’t know if it was an accident or not. They aren’t sure yet but everyone is frantic.
About fifteen minutes of watching the screen later I had to go downstairs and switch my laundry from the washer to the dryer. In the space of that time the second plane struck the second tower.
Now a second plane has struck, I wrote in the journal entry. All I want to know right now is what the hell is going on?
And I sat there, glued to the screen, watching as people leapt from the towers and wincing as the camera showed their descent into the ground below. In the space of time it took me to do my laundry the towers had been struck and they crumbled to the ground.
That day the news blared from radios and television sets all over the campus. I watched as they replayed the footage of the plane striking the North Tower fifteen times. One of those times the audio was so clear I could hear the impact of the plane into the tower. It’s a sound I will never be able to get from my mind.
The first thing I felt was terror. Because I can’t stop thinking about things, I had to imagine what it was like for the people trapped at the top of the tower, falling all that way, their hearts pounding as they cried out in terror. I felt sadness that I would never get to see the New York skyline from the observation deck.
Worse of all I thought, oh great. My wish is granted.
I now have a moment that I can tell my nephew and nieces, “When that happened I was…”.