I woke up nervous on the morning of September 11, 2001. My nerves had nothing to do with the tragedy nor tears that would come upon so many later that day. They had nothing to do with strong skyscrapers falling down like legos. They had nothing to do with a panicked phone call from a plane, or frantic calls about your firefighter family member.
My nerves were strictly related to Volleyball. 10 years ago on September 11th, I was a Freshman in high school who woke up worried about my serves and sets.
I had just started playing for the Freshmen team a few weeks ago, and was always anxious on game day. Throughout the day, my heart felt like it had a Slinky trapped inside of me. One minute, I would feel great—the next, it would leap over to one side, as if its calm could simply not be contained for long.
When I heard news about the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, my heart remained like a Slinky. However, my unsteady heart had nothing to do with whether I would serve well enough to score an Ace.
I heard about the first plane hitting on the way to school. To be completely honest, I didn’t entirely understand what that meant. But, during that day, I wasn’t the only one that was unaware of how airplanes would impact our lives forever. Every high school passing period, which was typically filled with greetings and gossip, had turned into five minutes of tears and fears.
The school day felt like someone had stuck their extremely high prescription glasses on my 20/20 eyes. Everything that was usually in focus was instantly hazy the minute I heard the news. It was as if I needed to intensely squint to make sense of my surroundings, but, even then, I couldn’t see straight. The glasses were permanently attached to me for days. No matter what I did, the glasses remained a permanent part of me. Of everyone.
I still had my Volleyball game that day. Looking back, this is shocking. How could we possibly worry about serves and spikes when so many others were worried about whether they would wish a family member “Happy Birthday” or say “I love you” ever again? How could we possibly panic about our performance when others were panicked on an airplane destined for destruction?
I played Volleyball that day through those high prescription glasses. Even when I focus really intensely, I can’t remember a single second of the game.
What do I remember? I remember my teammate spreading her arms as wide as an eagle, running across the gym floor with the speed of a panther, to give her mom the hug of a bear.
I remember stopping at a KFC drive thru for dinner after my Volleyball game. I remember sitting in the drive thru and hearing “Can I help you?” and wondering how it was possible for something so normal to sound so strange. I remember thinking of firefighter, friends and families, and thinking how lucky I was to be eating fast food.
On September 12, 2001, the situation began to stick. Our world was not what it once was. The glasses started to lose their strength slightly, but my heart added an entire box of slinkies. I went outside for gym class on September 12, and experienced one of the eeriest sounds I can ever remember.
I heard the sound of silence.
Living by Midway Airport, I had become used to hearing planes take off and land. But on September 12, the whir of a plane was world’s away. Not a single plane took off that day. Even as the world regained focus, and I began to grasp what occurred on that horrific day, and how it would impact my live—and the lives of all others—in the years to come, I still cannot shed that deafening sound of silence.
10 years. It is incredible for me to think that 10 years ago, I was a 9th grader, and, today, I am teaching high schoolers who were too young to really remember 9/11. However, regardless of whether we were 4 or 14 when the horrible events occurred, it is a permanent part of our lives. Some of us may recall the day like it was yesterday, while others can only recall the events in the way you do an image of you at age 2. You’ve seen the image so many times that you feel like you remember the details, even though, in reality, you don’t.
Yet regardless of our age, today, we remember and never forget.
What do you remember about September 11, 2001? Where were you when the tragedies occurred?