With so many things in life there seems to be a strange confliction in how much time has passed. When I think of where and who I was ten years ago, it seems like just yesterday and an eternity has gone by. So much has changed since then–so much in my life and so much in the world.
I was in my last year at college, living off-campus in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. That morning I was already cleaning out cages at the wildlife rehabilitation center where I interned. I was sent back to the work shed to get another wheelbarrow and heard on the radio, that was left on all day regardless of an audience, that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. I heard it just as I was walking back to the bear cages and it seemed like the newscasters where doubting the information and many thought if it was anything it was only a small wayward private plane crash.
I told the owners of the center what happened and they shrugged their shoulders and we continued to clean and feed the animals. I jumped into my jeep wrangler and headed home on the country road, listening to John Denver, and passing beautiful Amish farms. The crisp sunny autumn weather made me yearn for an apple cider candle. I decided to stop at a candle store and found the shop eerily empty. I located the two cashiers in the back of the store with hands over their mouths watching two buildings burning on the small TV. They didn’t even turn at my presence and I realized something was horribly wrong. I rushed out the store and turned on my radio as I speed home. On the way the first tower collapsed and I ran into my little house to see what they described on the TV. It was such a gut twisting sight, to see that tower cave in. I remember feeling that it all must not really be happening. That this was such a profound event that it couldn’t possibly be true. Strange how shock interferes with reality.
I called my mother first and tried to think of everyone I knew and if they worked in the area. My mind even raced to figure out if anyone I knew was flying on a plane that day. I had a sister that had flown out only days before from the same airport they hijacked the planes from and a sister who normally worked in NYC was vacationing in France. Thankfully everyone I knew was safe that day. The boyfriend I was with at the time worked in Paramus, NJ directly across from the Towers and his building had bomb threats right after the attacks. He could see the World Trade Center towers smoking and saw the whole area consumed by the dust cloud. It took him all day to get to my house with the bridges being closed due to terror threats. Classes were canceled and I stayed glued to the TV for the next few days. I drove home the following weekend and cried when every bridge I passed had our stars and stripes hanging from it. Houses all flew their flags as well as passing cars. I will never forget that incredible feeling of patriotism surrounding me.
So now it’s ten years later. The anniversary ground zero readings all seem to blur to a single rainy, tear-filled day. I’ve graduated, said goodbye to that boyfriend, found a job completely unrelated to the animal behavior major in NYC, got married, had my first child, and now I’m about to have my second. It’s quite possible that he or she might be born on that day and I’m not so sure how I feel about that. Obviously what’s meant to be is meant to be but it’s day filled with so much emotion, I wonder if it has room for any more?
All of us who were alive on that day can relive each detail this Sunday. It’s a day etched and fortified in our memories…the day that can never be lost.
How are you feeling on this day? Does it really feel like ten years have passed? How have these ten years changed you?