Like everyone else I know, I will always remember where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001. Or, that is to say, I'll remember it until I get dementia or Alzheimer's and forget everything. I was getting ready for class. A junior at PLNU, I had just turned 20. My first class, a theatre course, started bright and early. Our phone rang. It was my roommate's mom. I remember Michelle's voice going from a sleepy hello to a confused and slightly panicked What? Oh my gosh! She jumped out of bed faster than I'd ever seen her move in the morning and shoved the button in on our TV. I think she asked her mom what channel. I think her mom said that it didn't matter. As the screen focused we saw footage of smoke pouring from the buildings. We watched the station replay the planes crashing into the towers. I remember being extremely confused. How does a plane just fly right into a World Trade Center building? How do two planes do it? There was a fraction of time before we heard that the planes had been hijacked by terrorists.
I ran next door to my friend's room and shook her awake. She looked at me like I was crazy and I spouted something to the effect of, "Terrorists attacked New York!" It wasn't a very good way to wake someone up on her birthday. Congratulations for being born 19 years ago today. America is reeling. Get up and watch these buildings burn with me. The three of us stood in my room staring at the screen when all of the sudden the south tower collapsed. Until that moment everything had felt slow, as though we were existing in a dream world. But the speed of that tower coming down propelled me out of my dream state and into the reality not that we'd been attacked by radical terrorists but that the loss of life was going to be enormous. I instantly thought of mothers and fathers and husbands and wives who would, on that day, lose the world as they knew it.
I've had a couple rotten birthdays. There was my 21 birthday when my fiance (the ex) burned his eyes with special contact solution and spent the day groping around like blind Bartimaeus with his eyes glued shut. We couldn't go out to dinner on account of the fact that we were worried about him losing his sight. And there was this birthday which was effectively ruined by an email. But I think it's safe to say that both of these pale in comparison to Kristin who was born on September 11. The day was spent in mourning and, when I tried to round up a group of people to have a mini celebration of Kristin's birth, no one really felt much like a party.
Kristin lives in New York City now and I've had the good fortune of being able to visit her twice. On my first trip to the city I made a point of going to Ground Zero. The silence was deafening and the hole in the ground seemed filled with grief and gravity and the guts of anguish. I remember for all the people who lost their lives. I remember for all the children who lost their parents. I remember for all the husbands and wives who sat stunned while they spoke to their loved ones for the last time. And I remember for Kristin who, although she always shared her birthday with the numbers 9-11, now shares it with the remembrance of devastation.
Happy Birthday, Kristin! I hope your day is filled with fun and celebration. I hope, for all our sake's, that the terrorists stay away this year.