13 Years Ago - Thoughts and Feelings
Seconds after I awoke on the morning of September 12, 2001 was one of the only moments in my life when I seriously asked myself: “Was that all a dream?”
The morning of September 11, 2001 remains one of my most vivid memories, as I am sure it is for everybody who is old enough to remember that day. I recall how beautiful and perfect a day it was; it was one of those rare days when the weather couldn’t decide if it was summer or fall. I was the only person in the office that day. I was working as a video editor, my feet still barely wet. I remember listening to WXRT and working on a motion graphic design when the news broke.
I won’t go into detail of the series of emotions and feelings I experienced, as everyone in this country (hell, most of the world) went through them. Fear, confusion, grief, disbelief, sadness, relief, gratefulness, patriotism, love, hate, anger… all of us experienced these feelings and more simultaneously. But, the feeling that trumped them all for me was surrealism. Was this all really happening? The world seemed to cross over into some weird, dreamlike existence. The world all of the sudden was fake, yet more real than it’s ever been
This feeling wasn’t uncommon. Many people said they felt like they were watching a movie. Or a dream. I felt both. How else were we supposed to react and feel? Very few of us were old enough to remember December 7, 1941 and only some of us were old enough to remember the November 22, 1963. For some of us, this was our very first world-shaking event.
I remember calling my mother minutes after the second tower collapsed. Sometimes, calling your mother is the only thing to do. We talked about what was happening and discussed our swarm of feelings and emotions. I remember sobbing to my mother over the phone.
Man. I feel so self important and selfish writing about my feelings like this. Like it wasn’t something that happened to all of us. I was nowhere near New York City on September 11, 2001. I did not know anybody who died, nor do I know anybody who lost anyone. What do my thoughts and memories matter? There are thousands of other people whom this event affected on a much greater scale.
While September 11, 2001 was surreal and dreamlike, I am reminded of how the following weeks were even more so.
Remember how nice everybody was? We all treated each other with more care and respect than usual. There was a lot more “holding the door open for strangers,” “waving in drivers trying to change lanes in heavy traffic,” and “giving up seats on trains and buses for somebody who needs it” than normal.
The country got a lot quieter as the level of obnoxiousness seemed to go from the usual 10 down to a 2. People stopped yelling into their cell phones. The volume of coffee-shop chatter went down to a polite whisper. Even supermarkets had an eerie silence about them.
We all treated each other like a respected member of our family. We were all a little more patient, understanding, polite, and respectful. It was like the Christmas season came early in 2011, but without the cheer.
The events of 9/11 brought everybody closer together. It was the only time I can remember when we, as a people, were truly all one. It saddens me that it took such a horrific event to create a collective feeling of unity, and it saddens me even more that it lasted for such a short while.
But every year as the anniversary of this horrible event passes, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have the love of my friends and family and how easy it is to take that for granted.