I Remember

Nine Years Ago…Around This Time (just before 9AM)…

I remember waking up in my apartment in Virginia because my phone would not stop ringing.

I remember eventually getting up and just missing the last phone call by one ring. Then listening to a friend’s voicemail about how the country was at war and would her husband be drafted.

I remember turning on the television, shrugging my shoulders at my friend’s incoherency.

I remember seeing the Twin Towers on fire. Then flipping the channel. Each channel showed the same image.

I remember wondering if my TV was broken. Then I saw a plane flying toward the South Tower.

I remember blinking. Why is a plane flying so close to the buildings? Why isn’t it changing course? Aren’t there people on the plane? Maybe my eyes were broken. I kept blinking.

I remember seeing the plane fly into building one. I flipped the channels too fast to see anything clearly. The images blurred together and all I saw was a world on fire.

I don’t remember much after that.

I think I called my friend. I think I left messages on my family’s answering machines back home in New York. I think I even tried to get ready for school, only to be sent home.

The bus driver had a news program playing on the radio. Evidently, the Pentagon also had a plane fly into it, too.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

Months go by…

I remember in the months that followed, moviemakers were scrambling to cut out any footage of the Twin Towers or any reference to bombs or explosions. I thought they were being silly. Americans were tougher than that.

Then, I watched an action movie on TV, and sobbed at the opening pan shot of the New York City skyline.

I remember the prof of my Advanced Composition class asked if anyone knew the shortest verse in the Bible. I answered, “Jesus wept” then promptly cried.

I remember walking Lower Manhattan with my cousin that winter. We didn’t talk much outside. I don’t know about her, but I couldn’t help thinking that I was inhaling building debris and dead bodies.

I remember the beautiful stories told on the one-year anniversary. The heart broken children who will never know their mother or father. The husband who lost his wife. The wife proud of her husband’s bravery.

Then the years go by…

I remember hearing coworkers wonder why 9/11 was such a big deal.

I remember seeing shrugs and eye rolls.

“Never Forget,” indeed.

More like “We Will Remember”…when it’s convenient for us.

I remember being in a crowd of indifference while I still can’t bear the thought of watching United 93 or World Trade Center.

Now

I look forward to the day when the skyline is whole again. It should be any year now. Believe me, I will take as many pictures as possible, hoping to replace the burning buildings scorched into my mind’s eye.

I remember seeing Fringe last year. The show is a blur of X-Filesian episodes; great action and story, but nothing too outstanding (at least, nothing that hasn’t been done before in that genre.) Then, the finale episode of their first season showed the Twin Towers whole and beautiful, in a universe where they never fell.

I remember how I teared up just seeing the skyline like that in a present world, and not in years gone by. That show has forever won my loyalty.

I remember reading somewhere that the most effective affirmations for changing/sustaining mindset and behavior are written in the present tense, and focusing on what I want rather than what I want to avoid.

This is why I don’t say that I will never forget. I say that I remember.

What do you remember?

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5 thoughts on “I Remember

  1. thefallenmonkey says:

    liza, this is lovely. You captured so well how that swell of unity and passion that emerged in the wake of that day has eroded so significantly in just under a decade. I certainly will always remember as well…

    I remember first hearing about it on the radio, sitting in my car driving across Chicago. The morning show was talking about a plane that had hit the WTC and still wondering if it had been an accident…until the second one hit. I remember my mother’s worried voice on my answering machine when I got back to my apartment and how I tried to tune in on my 18-year-old television! The antenna reception was awful, and the picture began flipping just before I heard the cries of the newscasters. I remember smacking my TV to get a clear picture of what had raised the alarm, and it clicked into place just before the first building finished collapsing. I remember dressing for work, tentatively, then driving on Lake Shore Drive toward the office, listening to how they still didn’t know if there were more planes out there or what their targets would be. From my view, I saw the Sears Tower and my own office building, Chicago’s 3rd tallest in which my office was on the 74th floor. I remember seeing all the workers emptying into the street, so I passed my exit and headed straight for the highway out to my parents’ house in the suburbs…where I remember watching the footage on the news for hours on end with mouth agape and trying to grasp the reality with my mom and dad that we were at war.

    By the way, I let myself watch Flight 93 for the first time the other night, which left my husband and I crying and hugging each other as though it had just happened. It may as well have, and I don’t understand how this could fade in others’ minds and hearts. So I thank you, liza, for sharing your experience of that day and the subsequent years and feel heartened to know there are still those united in “love, hope, and camaraderie,” as you say 🙂

    • liza says:

      Thank you so much for sharing! I couldn’t help but cry again. (and I swear, I’m the LEAST weepy girl I know!) Just the thought of watching those movies made me tear up a little. Maybe next year

  2. Carol Ann Hoel says:

    I will never forget that day. It has changed us as a nation. September 11, 2001, the first day of the rest of our lives, and for many the first day without their loved ones that perished in the flames. How could we ever forget?

    • liza says:

      How indeed? My day before and after I had to work was filled with tears reading other people’s memories and stories…all of which centered around people: those that were lost, those that survived; acts of bravery, kindness, love, and all of the other beautiful things that we all have great potential for. (I didn’t even bother listening to the negativity that some people were perpetuating yesterday; I only breathed in the love, hope, and camaraderie)

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