Remembering September 11th, 2001

Posted by Brandon |

I wanted to post something mundane and silly on this the five year anniversary of September 11th, 2001 as a respite from the sheer amount of coverage that this day will receive. But I started to think about how well I remember that day five years later and how everything that happened has stuck with me. This is not a post memorializing the victims or philosophizing on what has happened since or anything scholarly. It's just simply a recollection of what I did and how I felt on that day. It may not be important on a grand scale and is probably downright trite in comparison to the suffering that occurred elsewhere, but everybody has a story about that day, and this is mine.

At the time, I was living in Harlingen, Texas with my best friend John working for the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWing baseball team. Our season had just ended and we were taking it easy after a long summer. I decided the night before that I would sleep in and go to work a little bit late. I awoke to the sound of my alarm and the DJ saying "all of our thoughts and prayers are with everybody at the World Trade Center in New York Ci..." and I hit the snooze button. As I lay there the words started to sink in and I wondered what he was talking about. So I got up, grabbed a bowl of cereal, plopped down on the couch and turned on the TV not expecting to find anything major.

Boy was I ever wrong. As I turned on the TV I saw the second plane crash into the tower and it was obvious that this wasn't something little. I, like everybody else, watched in horror as the news anchors tried to help us make sense of it all. Another plane crashed into the Pentagon and another in rural Pennsylvania. I called work to let them know I wasn't going to be in for a while...they understood. I sat there frozen watching as the first tower collapsed and then the second and each time I just cried and cried, bawling like a little baby.

I finally got it together enough to take a shower and head into work. At that point I just couldn't be by myself anymore and even the idiots that I worked with were more relief than sitting in front of the TV by myself would be. Of course, all we did was sit in the office and watch TV and hypothesize about who was behind it, how many people had died and why it had happened. I held a lot of my first impressions back because of how unpopular they would be in a room full of Texans, impressions that I still get today but don't wish to go into at this point.

Then the owners of our team showed up. We had just learned that our general manager was going to be leaving and a lot of rumors were being spread around between our team and owner's other team in Edinburg about who would replace him and various other nasty rumors about personnel in the organization. We proceeded to get a lecture about spreading rumors and a threat that if any of us were spreading these rumors that we would be fired quickly. Every one of us took offense to these threats not because of how idiotic they were but because those jokers chose to treat it like a serious matter on a day where nothing else mattered in the least bit. We didn't care one bit about what they had to say to us. Yesterday maybe, but not today.

When I got home I finally had a chance to call my loved ones, I talked to my mom and my grandparents and finally my girlfriend, now wife who was getting ready to start medical school in Seattle. We talked a lot about what happened and how lonely we both were being apart on a day like this. I had been considering leaving the team and going home to be with her and our conversation and the loneliness that we both felt pretty much cemented the idea that night. But she made the mistake of telling me about deadly mold spores. We had had a leak in our air conditioner a week earlier and despite the fact that the landlord fixed it, they didn't bother to clean or dry the carpet where it leaked and it was still wet. I didn't think of it as a problem until she mentioned it that night.

I decided to go to bed early, I had had enough coverage by that time. I didn't think I could take seeing anymore video especially when we started seeing the shot of the people jumping from the top floors. That was just too much for me. As I laid there all I could think about were terrorists and deadly mold spores and how I might not wake up again if I went to sleep. I laid there for what seemed like hours thinking and crying. It was the first time in my life that I can remember being completely scared shitless.

So, totally freaked out, I called John who was spending the night at his girlfriend's place and asked if I could come hang out with them and sleep on her couch. We watched a couple of movies including Jurassic Park III, which we made fun of throughout laughing our asses off at just how bad it was. We stayed up all night eating junk food, watching movies, playing video games and enjoying each other's company. None of us forgot what was going on or felt any better about it, but it turned out to be one of the best nights that I spent in Texas because of how comforting and relieving it was to share it with two friends who were just as freaked and in need of relief as me.

So that was my day. It's not a great or important story, but it's a day that I will always remember not just because of the awful thing that happened but because of the context and how it wove itself into all of our lives. Like it or not, 9/11 is a part of who you are and always will be no matter what you did that day. The important thing today, five years later, is to remember the context and how it wove into your life and what lessons you learned that day. I learned that friendship and family bonds are more important than anything else and worth sacrificing for. And although I'm miles away from my friends and family, nothing could stop me from being there for them if they are in need just as they were for me on September 11, 2001.


kapgar said...

I had thought about doing something like this on my blog. But I figured my participation in 2,996 was enough.

Very nicely done, though.

I still have trouble with the fact that this happened five years ago.

Chanakin said...

For most of us, 9/11 was our JFK.

We'll always know exactly where we were, what we were doing, and how we found out.