since everyone else is talking about it...
eight years ago i was living in a bubble. actually called "the bubble" by its students, Grove City College sits idyllically inside a beautiful brick wall that runs along its physical periphery, and inside an invisible, yet very secure, wall that keeps the outside world a comfortable distance from God's chosen undergrads.
my roommate and i didn't have a television, nor did any of our friends. those few students who had television, normally jocks, weren't even given the option of having MTV. as i understood it, the college had a formal agreement with the cable company regarding what should be offered to students.
at any rate, it is with this preface that i admit to you that when the twin towers (or is it "the two towers?" i always get 9/11 confused with Lord of the Rings) fell, i was too busy to notice. i was studying for a very difficult and very intimidating Spanish Lit. exam in the student union (remember the Geedunk?) when people began crowding around a television.
it was a strange crowd, i remember. usually when two or more GCC students are gathered together, it's impossible to block out the screams of "Yahtzee!" or, alternatively, the songs of praise they spontaneously burst into (yes, i'm serious). but this crowd wasn't screaming or singing anything. they just stared at a television set.
i guess i understood that something bad was happening, but i'd been studying for that exam non-stop for 3 days. i woke up at 5 AM to do last-minute cramming. i was sick to my stomach with fear that i might forget one of the 10 pages of Spanish quotations and literary criticism jargon i had learned by rote memorization (how do you explain a 'controlling metaphor' in Spanish?). at the time, i absolutely had no concern for what newsworthy event was unfolding live on Fox News. did Billy Graham die? or Pat Robertson, maybe? either national tragedy would've explained the looks of shock and sadness on my fellow grovers' faces.
whatever was going on, it didn't affect me. until i got to class. as my fellow hispanoparlantes and i sat down to take another of Senorita Forrester's dreaded exams, all shaking with anxiety and praying to Jesus to help us all get A's, i noticed that quite a few desks were empty. where was everyone?
and so it was la senorita who broke the news to me and the few other students who made it all the way to our 10:30 class oblivious to what had happened in Manhattan. she assumed that most people already knew; she understood that some of us might not be emotionally able to sit for the exam; she would hold a make-up exam for those students who were too distraught by, or at least fixated on, the morning news to do last-minute studying. before i knew it, i was one of those people. i found myself packing up my Jansport and leaving the class, while about half the students who had shown up that morning stayed behind and took the exam.
of course, i hadn't spent the morning distraught or staring at a television. i was prepared for that exam. but who could pass up the opportunity to study a little more? i would go on to graduate with a 4.0 in my major, which might not have been possible had i sat for that exam. does that make me a bad person?
the next few days on campus were a mess of impromptu chapel services, candlelight prayer vigils, and - thank the Lord - canceled classes. i felt safe inside the bubble. childish and ignorant, i didn't get, at the time, what 9/11 meant.
it was only months later, when my first love decided to move to New York for grad school, that the tragedy hit home. once i had loved ones in the city, and now that many people i love live there, the thought of such a thing happening again is terrifying. but 8 years ago, ignorance really was bliss.
what's YOUR story?