Saturday, September 11, 2010

I still love you, though, New York


That video was shot on September 7, 2001. Ole Ryan had no clue he was capturing one of the last videos of the towers.

Hard to believe it's been 9 years. I was a freshman at Auburn on that day, safe and sound and asleep in my dorm room when the planes hit. Lizzie had an 8:00 class, so she was long gone by the time I woke up, and I've never been one to watch TV as I got ready. Back then I wasn't quite as attached to my computer for news or emails either, so I hadn't heard a word about it until I stepped outside and was stopped by a friend on the front steps of our dorm, who asked "Have you talked to Smith? What are they saying up there??" I probably looked like a crazy person as I stood there with a clueless look on my face. See, my boyfriend was a cadet at West Point, the US Military Academy for the Army, located in upstate New York. I remember her saying, "We don't know what's going on... thought it was an accident until the second plane hit... you need to call him." So of course I freaked out. I joined the rest of the nation in those moments of freak out, of confusion, fear, and then that quiet panic of realizing that life has changed. I went to my math class, probably failed a quiz that was later not counted, and then spent the rest of the day in a daze of talking to my friends and family not there with me, glued to those images on the television, and trying to get Smith on the phone. They were quite busy up there. And all I could think was how one time he told me that since West Point is a terrorist target, they would be on lockdown if anything ever happened. I didn't talk to him until mid-afternoon. I was a mess.

I can remember that feeling so well of wanting to know that each and every loved one I had was safe, even though I didn't know a soul in NYC or DC. Or who would have been flying that day. But I was already homesick, away at college for only a month, and I had that childlike feeling of just wanting my mom and to be home. To be able to see and touch everyone I loved and know they were ok. It was surreal to know that my mom and sister had watched it all live on the televisions at our high school.

I remember crying for months. Putting a flag on my car.
  
I visited New York that October, a pre-planned birthday present from Smith, it was surreal to be there. Surreal to fly and see all the panicked faces around me. I flew into Newark, the airport from which one of the planes had departed. Security was crazy. It was probably the safest I ever was when flying, but I'd never been so scared. When we got to the city, there was still ash in the air and smoke rising to the south. We didn't go to Ground Zero. Didn't want to see it. Felt terrible about the idea of gawking like tourists. Years later we eventually visited and saw the concrete memorial there in the absence of all the mess.

So now, nine years later, it's still not quite another day. Everyone says "Always Remember," but can we ever forget? I don't think so. Alan Jackson had it right... the world stopped turning for real. But it's nice that today everyone remembers, but we all keep going on. There's a wedding going on at Centennial Park tonight (bet that dude won't ever forget the date of his anniversary). Vanderbilt is playing LSU at the moment, and I can hear the game from my front porch and see all of the Banana Pants walking to the stadium. The Bammers are on the TV kicking Penn State's ass in Tuscaloser. Charlsie is talking about baking cookies. Nat is working an event before the Reba McIntyre and George Strait concert tonight (I soooo wish I had tickets.) I've been on the phone with Verizon troubleshooting my phone. Normal day.

Life is weird. I kinda wish we all still had the flags on our cars. Despite the terrible thing that brought us together, wasn't it so nice to revel in that patriotism and feel that connection? Of course, I've always been a cheese. Always teared up when Lee Greenwood sang "And I Gladly Staaand UP..." I'm a lost cause.

God Bless the USA.
Last weekend on Percy Priest Lake. (Americuh.)

1 comment:

Laurel said...

I think we all struggle with the sensitive balance of feeling guilty moving on but inevitably knowing the natural process of bluer skies, better days and that time heals.

I was freshman in college too and I must say that though I felt completely vulnerable in that moment and for days after, being in that environment was a huge growth movement for me.

great post my friend.