Two years ago, I tried to prompt my students into a discussion on where they were on September 11th. A few of them remembered parents crying, but for the most part? They didn't remember. They were five. That's when it hit me that this whole generation of children will grow up not remembering, just knowing, never living without THIS as a part of their collective thoughts.
It was a strange feeling, because I remember so strongly where I was. When the first plane hit, I was in Speech class. I didn't know, but this boy was giving a speech about carpe diem and why you should live each day to its fullest. How appropriate, how strange. I left class and noticed two things: 1) It was a perfectly beautiful day, with a bright blue sky and perfect temperatures, and 2) how campus was so deserted. It was 9:30 on a week day. Normally, there'd be people everywhere, going to and from class. It's not as if IU was a small school, so seeing so very few people out was bizarre. I walked back into my dorm, catching a snippet from the TV in the commons. I thought a plane crashed. You know, still a sad event, but that's all I thought. Just a plane crash. Until I went back upstairs and my suitemate had her TV on, sitting rapt with wet hair and a towel wrapped around her. She'd just gotten out of the shower, but couldn't bring herself to stop watching and get dressed. She was the one who explained to me that it was more than just a plane crash. Where were you?
So strange because the day before? My little hometown was all over CNN, because of a bank hostage situation. Just 24 hours earlier. If it'd happened a day later, NO ONE would've cared, but the day before? It was big news. A day later? It didn't matter. Life was changing.
I drove home that weekend, my breath catching in my throat as I passed the Indianapolis airport, still as a morgue. It was common to see planes flying in and out, but this day, it was like a ghost town. Shane and I got together with friends that Saturday night and we talked about where we were and where we were going to go from here. I remember drinking one too many strawberry daquiris and Shane's coworker putting her arms around my neck and saying that she loved me. I said it back and then, do you remember how for awhile after that, everyone just LOVED and held close? It was really nice, in spite of the great tragedy. I remember September 12th, when it'd sunk in just how many were lost, all of the people in NYC with signs looking for lost loved ones and how those of us who knew where our loved ones were? We just wanted to hold them so tight.
What if just for today we did that again, in honor of all of those who didn't live to see September 12th? I'll start. I love all of you, who email me when I have to go back to work and who hope that the sickness that has gripped our house passes and who tell me that I deserve a break and generally make me feel a little less crazy. Now, you do it. Hug, hold closer, and go out and love like it's September 12th.