Where were you on September 11, 2001? How has it affected your life?
I drove Wizard to Kindergarten and stopped at Sam’s Club on the way home. Wild Thing was two then and not in preschool that morning. We shopped a little and were waiting to check out when a clerk said that a plane flew into a building in New York City. I thought to myself, “What is she, crazy? That’s impossible.” The clerk repeated herself, and again I thought, “How stupid are you that you can’t even get a TV news report right.” I shook my head and said, “Yeah, sure, lady.” She urged me to get home right away. I got home and flipped on the television. There were Katie Couric and Matt Lauer reporting that a jet crashed into the World Trade Center just minutes before. OMG, the clerk was right! I remained glued to the TV set and watched, horrified, as fiery debris and human bodies rained from the towers. The house was a tornado of images and sounds: towers falling, planes hitting the Pentagon and crashing in Pennsylvania, the normally silent phone ringing off the hook. WineGuy called over and over again with news reports and updates. Finally, Wizard’s school called: early dismissal, come get your kids NOW.
Wild Thing and I jumped in the car and raced down the highway to Wizard’s school. I remember driving 80+ mph down the interstate, thinking “just let a cop try to pull me over. He’ll have to follow me to school and then drag my ass out of the car.” Like everyone else, all I wanted was to get my kid and bring him home. There were no police cars on the road that morning; the highway was eerily deserted. I got to school (in record time), grabbed Wizard and raced back home. We spent half the afternoon glued to the television, inexorably drawn to the morbid reports coming from New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pa.
I felt violated in so many ways: Washington, D.C. was my hometown, and the Pentagon was inviolate . . . or so we thought. Armageddon at command central? Unthinkable. We lived in Central Pennsylvania for eight years and moved back to Florida in early 2001. I still missed our bucolic life and was still adjusting to suburbia. A jet crashing into those verdant meadows? Unfathomable. My roots had been desecrated.
After a while, we had to extinguish the news. Our brains could not process any more horror. We took to watching re-runs of old TV shows on TV Land, just to feel safe and normal, to let our brains rest. We tried to explain things to Wizard. He was wise for his 5 years, but he was still a little boy. He understood what happened, but he was afraid. We were (are) lucky to live in a place not urban enough to interest terrorists, but The Zone’s proximity to Miami and Tampa – major deepwater ports and urban areas – made us think twice about our relative safety. Two weeks later, we made a weekend trip to Walt Disney World. I had never seen it so empty. A week after that, I went to San Diego for that year’s August96 Moms’ Reunion. I wasn’t going to miss it, but so many moms cancelled, refusing to leave their families. (Reunions haven’t been the same since then.)
How have the terrorist attacks changed me?
The petty ways:
- I detest the invasiveness and inconvenience of air travel now. Whereas traveling used to be exciting and glamorous, it is now a colossal pain in the ass. Petty, I know, but true.
- I have become a complete “hawk” with respect to Israeli politics. For once, I agree with my oldest brother, The Egg’s, right-wing politics; he and his family live in Israel. That land is our land. It isn’t the Palestinians’ land. They’re not entitled to a square inch, so they should get the hell out. Settlements, yes. Concrete barrier, yes. Give back territory? Never. ,
- WineGuy is apathetic about visiting Israel, and he has discouraged me from traveling there to attend my nieces’ weddings in the last year.
- I long for the New York skyline of my youth, with the Twin Towers anchoring southern Manhattan. The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings look lonely without their big brothers standing guard for them.
The positive ways:
- My children and I have made some wonderful friends of people who specifically moved here to get away from the New York area.
- I keep in better touch with my friends and family in New York, Washington, and Israel. When the Israeli nieces and nephews come to the USA, I make sure to see them.
- I pay closer attention to Middle East politics, especially in Israel and about the Palestinians. WineGuy does too.
- My children understand world geography better. Wizard has a keen interest in American and international politics now.
So, tell me, readers, where were you on 9/11/2001 and how has it affected your life?