So, this is my life.

And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

nine eleven

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?

1 comment:

carteemily said...

I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym at Clearview Regional High School. It was picture day and me and some buddies were sitting there waiting for our turn.
One of the gym teachers/field hockey coaches frantically came running into the gym with a hand-held radio and was shouting something that a) i couldn't really understand and b) didn't make any sense even if i could...but she was shouting that a plane had flown into one of the towers. One of my classmates sitting by me got pretty worked up because her dad worked at the pentagon-i didn't really get it, but she did.
Then I went to 11th grade English where we watched the news and some people prayed for the girl I mentioned as well as people in NY, DC, their families. My teacher said our thoughts and impressions were really important to record, so we all wrote journal entries. Then before that period was over it was announced that we'd be having a 1/2 day, so about an hour later, my dad picked me up from school (whose clothespin building on 15th and Market was closed and he was sent home, like 1000s of people in the city).
Once I got home, my mom, dad, grandmom and I watched the news on and off for the rest of the night. I remember really well the images from the firemen documentary that the volunteer for the NY fire department made.