When 9/11 happened I was in Seward, Nebraska. My now-husband and I were sitting in chapel one morning when in the prayers the chaplain prayed for all the people in New York City. That short morning service is where I first heard that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed.
The first thing I did when chapel was over was go back to my dorm room and email my dad. Essentially I wanted to know, “Dad, is this true?” We used to live in New York, and one year over Christmas, my paternal grandparents had taken me, my sisters, and cousin on a day trip to New York City. We saw Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty, but the most impressionable thing about the city for me had been driving through the street past the Trade Center towers. From the left back passenger window of my grandparents’ car, you didn’t look out to see the buildings, you looked up. They were so tall you had to squish your face up against the window glass to see the tops. I remember thinking, “Wow! These are the same buildings that were on the news not that long ago for being bombed.”
My dad emailed me back and said that yes, it was true that the buildings were gone. He hasn’t always been right about things, but he’s always had a way of seeing the world that I value. When all the shut-downs began happening in March, my dad was not the first person I called. It took a day or so before I got to calling him, and when I did, the first thing I asked was, “Dad, what do you think?” His first thought was, “Wow, we just left normal.”
Besides the obvious and horrific tragedy of the aftermath in the streets and grand scale loss of human life, what shocked me most about 9/11 was was the speed at which the World Trade Center skyscrapers went from being two of the tallest buildings in the world to being nothing at all. They didn’t just fall or topple over. They were on fire for a while and then disintegrated in seconds. Driving by in a car the sky would look very different now.
My mind keeps going back to the earliest shut down days when massive American entities were toppling at once. The speed at which it happened made it seem like you were watching idols falling down in slow motion. The NBA, all college campuses, Disneyworld. Seeing something that striking strikes the fear of God into a person, at least that’s what it does for me.
I’ve got so many more pressing thoughts about this, friends.
If possible I will try to write again later.