NEVER CLICHÉ, THAT DAY.
I was half-listening to the news while making dinner a little while ago. They were covering 9/11 stuff - local tributes, etc. - and suddenly I got all verklempt while slicing a tomato.
It's strange... Five years have passed and people talk about that day on a regular basis. We talk about who's to blame and what the world has become since that day. And with all that 'coming to terms' with stuff, I kinda feel like my heart should be stronger by now. But I think it's the personal accounts that get me.
People have come to ask, "Where were you when the towers were hit?" I was at school. It was the first week and since we hadn't yet had Band sign-ups, I didn't have any classes going on. I remember walking down the hall towards the bathroom and another teacher telling me that a Cessna or something had hit one of the twin towers. I went to the bathroom thinking, "Duh..."
When I was finished, I wandered down to the main office and knew something was wrong as soon as I went in. The principal, secretaries and a few other teachers were standing around a radio, their faces ashen. I stood with them and listened to the chaos that was ensuing in New York. It felt like the world was coming to an end.
I remember walking back to my room in a daze, passing by classrooms where teachers and kids who had not yet heard were going about their business - laughing, learning. "They have no idea," I remember thinking. And for those brief moments, we were living in two different worlds.
The rest of the day was a blur. I joined the principal and counselors in going to the different classes to talk to the kids. So many of them had Moms or Dads who worked in the city. Parents came in droves to collect their children, and I acted as a runner, finding their kids and bringing them to the office.
The memory that haunts me most is that of a newly widowed mother collapsed with her daughter in the hallway. The husband/father didn't make it out. Another boy - one of my trumpet players - lost his Mom that day.
I didn't see any television until I got home. And when I saw the images, I could not turn them off. At the time, I was sharing a house with a crazy Canadian chick and when she got home from work, we took a drive up to this condo complex on a huge hill. From where we stood we could see the twinkling New York skyline, a large patch of it cloaked in darkness. We could see the smoke still rising from its gaping wound.
I suppose everyone remembers that day in their own way. I remember the faces of the people in the main office. I remember that woman and her daughter in the hallway, broken. I remember U2's "Stuck In A Moment" playing on the radio as I drove home from school, and how I can never hear it without thinking of that day.
I also remember the days following, when we as a nation felt the type of camaraderie that only comes from surviving a tragedy. I remember wondering how long that bond would last. And now, five years later, I still feel it, and I can say that my life has changed. I think I stop to smell the roses a little more, and I tell the people in my life that I love them.
Our world is so complex and so very fragile.