Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Sept 11th Story (repost)

This is a repost from my old blog

This is long and very personal so I understand is not everyone reads but I think it's time I put this down so I always know what that day was like, everything about that day.

I looked back and was surprised to see that I hadn't posted this before.  It seems that we all know where we were, what we were doing and how we reacted the on September 11, 2001.  The day has a whole extra element for me because I was horribly violated the night before.  I thought the most I would have to worry about that day was dealing with being date raped but I would soon find out that wouldn't be the case.

I remember stepping out of Hall 10 on campus around 8:45 EDT.  It was one of those perfect fall days where the warm sunshine mixed fall air in a way that you only find in New England.  I tried to appreciate it but my head was swirling, what was I going to do about what happened the night before?  I wasn't even sure what happened - I said no over and over but I didn't scratch or scream or really do anything other than cry.  With that on my mind it's not surprising that when I heard the girls talking about the plane crashes I only half listened and assumed it was a new movie or something. 

It was clear that word had not spread on campus yet, the rotunda was bustling as usual, the Greeks were in their spots, the jocks in their spots, the student government in their spots and the rest of us filled in the holes.  Class went as scheduled, Business Law I think - the professor made no mention to what happened.  At 9:50 when class was dismissed I made my way back to the rotunda to find the entire student body gathered together watching the tiny TVs in horror.

I couldn't believe it, the first thing I did was call my sister at her school outside of Boston, I knew her boy friend was flying out to California but I didn't know what day.  He was safe.  I made my way over to another building on campus and once again the students were all brought together watching in disbelief.  There were hugs and tears and terrified faces.  Many of the students were from New York and New Jersey, our campus was just 50 miles south of Boston - this was happening in our back yard to people we love.

I spoke to my mom, my siblings, my stepmother.  I wanted nothing more than to call my father because he is who I turn to when horrible things happened but he had died 4 months earlier.  I remember feeling helpless and terrified.  I wondered about my brother who was stationed in Japan with the Marines.  I will admit that I didn't know where Afghanistan was so I looked at a map and wondered if he would be sent.  I couldn't imagine someone I love being sent to war - it was just impossible to wrap my mind around.

I got back to my dorm and talked to my roommates about it all, we were party girls at the time.  We were just getting to know each other but this brought us together in a way we could have never imagined.  I called my office in down town Providence, we were open so I went to work.  Radio stations had stopped playing music and people were just calling in and talking.  It wasn't the angry anti Muslim crap we hear today, it was from the heart words of love and fear.  At this point flags were at half staff.

In the office the phone didn't ring, no one was thinking about commercial real estate.  The agents were watching a little black and white TV with a bunny ears antenna.  I spent most of the day on my phone and in tears.  At one point Providence officials were searching for a suspected terrorist who ran off a train, thank God it was nothing.  I learned that a friend had not heard from his brother who worked in the North Tower.  It was the longest 4 hours of work.

By the time I left the office at 5 EDT there was an obvious mood shift.  The radio was playing music, songs about peace, songs about country, and songs about heroes.  The flags were back up and being flown proudly.  People had started putting flags everywhere they could.  The unity that I had seen on campus was spreading to down town Providence and across the country.

I got back to school quickly because most offices had closed and there were few cars on the road but people weren't speeding, people weren't cutting each other off, people were being respectful.  Without planes flying it was quiet.  I still felt lost and scared.  My roommates and I decided to go to a chapel service that night.  The priest told us that he really didn't know what to do, what do you say when something like this happens?  He said that when he doesn't know where to go when seeking God's guidance he starts at the beginning so he read from the book of Genesis.  I don't remember exactly which passages he read but I do remember for the first time in over four months I felt my father's presence.  I had heard about it from other people who lost people but I knew I hadn't experienced it.  It was what I needed at that moment.  It was reassurance that alive or dead when I need him he would be around.

Later that night my friend's brother made it home a hero.  The intercom in the north tower told everyone to stay put but he knew better and being the loud Staten Island boy that he is got his entire office out of the building safely before the tower collapsed.

In the days and weeks to come campus was on lock down.  Classes were welcome distractions.  Our school lost two alumni, one of which was from my home town and very close to a close friend of mine.  Flags popped up in every dorm window.  There were still parties but they were patriotic parties, I know it sounds weird and disrespectful but is how many people coped.

As for me I decided not to do anything about what happened the night before.  My brother went from Japan to The Philippians but would never go to Afghanistan.  In 2005 he was one of the Marines taking Fallujah and has since retired from the military.

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