So, I know I haven't blogged on here in FOREVER, but I'm really going to try to do better. Anyway, I chose to start blogging today after getting emotional while teaching. Today is 9/11 and the 8 year anniversary of the "terrorist attacks." It was my first time teaching on 9/11 and I wanted to do something significant.
So, I had everyone free write for 15 minutes on the following topic: Where were you on 9/11? What does this day mean to you? After we (yes I participated) finished free-writing I shared my piece and a few people shared theirs. We watched the youtube video of Suheir Hammad's "First Writing Since." Class is only 50 minutes, so we didn't have as much time to discuss as I would have liked, but I think it was a good class. I did this same thing in both classes I'm teaching this semester.
I'm going to include my free-write below... it's pretty long since I had time to add more while my second class was writing. Remember this is a free-write, so it hasn't been edited at all.
September 11, 2001
I can still remember the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 as if it happened yesterday, and not 8 years ago. It was my second week of college and 8 days before my 18th birthday. I had just started adjusting to my college schedule and the impossible workload. That morning started like any other I waited for my roommate to come back from the shower... my cue that it was time to stop hitting snooze. I went to shower and when I came back my roommate, Stephanie, was standing in front of the TV frozen. It had to be around 7:40 am, because she had an 8 am class. As she prepared to leave she told me that a plane had just crashed into one of the Twin Towers...still groggy despite my shower I just muttered okay. Stephanie asked me to watch the news while she went to class, and update her on what happened. I started getting dressed and watched the screen. Imagine my disbelief as I saw the second plane crash while the news was broadcasting live. It was this moment when I realized something bad was happening. I grabbed my phone and called home. "Mom, what's happening... planes are crashing... I'm scared... what do I do?" My mom who usually relies on me to be rational was panicked. She told me she would call me back, but first she had to pick up my younger siblings from schoool.
So, what did I do in the meantime? I went to my 9 am class. Crazy huh? After class we all learned that the university was closed for the rest of the day, and they were calling the plane crashes intentional--terrorist attacks. Once again I called home. My mom wanted to come get me from school, but the news advised everyone to stay off the roads. They weren't sure if more than NY was targeted. So, I just stayed inside. I was confused, scared, and for the first time away from my family when disaster struck.I spent the rest of my morning on AIM w/ a friend in NY who had no cell phone reception, but a very worried Michigan family. She gave me numbers to call, and I reassured her family that she was safe.
I'm not sure when it hit me, but at some point I remembered that today was my baby brother's birthday. He was turning 4. It was the first time I was away on one of their special days. I remember calling to tell him happy birthday and him sounding sad. He said "No one's acting like it's my birthday. Mommy didn't take me to breakfast and she picked everyone up from school early." I felt bad... how do you explain to a 4 yr old that his birthday will forever be remembered as the day the towers fell and thousands of lives were lost.
For me 9/11 is about more than the loss of life. It's the celebration of my baby brother's life. The child plagued w/ asthma attacks that kept him hospitalized and all of us fearful. The child w/ the bright smile and wonderful spirit. The little boy who rarely asks for much, but is grateful for everything. When he was 3 and had to have surgery my mom told him he could have whatever he wanted. His request--for me not to go to school and come with them. This year when I asked what he wanted for his birthday his first response was "Can you come home?" How many 12 yr old boys still want to hang out w/ their big sister? I know you aren't supposed to have favorites, but out of my 8 younger siblings, Robert is by far my favorite. Maybe because we share a zodiac sign or a birthday month. Or maybe it's because no matter how horrible I feel he can always make me feel better.
So, while I understand how terrible 9/11 is for most people it will always be my baby brother's birthday first, and the day the towers fell second.
I began to shed tears when I got to the part of being away from my family for the first time...