In Remembrance of 9/11- My Story

Eleven years ago today, I was an undergraduate attending college. I was finishing out my final few semesters of school as an art history major.

The morning of September 11, 2001 I was in a modern dance class… a trapeze class… imagine cirque du soleil.

Random I know, but if you only knew what a horrible experience my first attempt at a credit for PE was. My volleyball coach gave up on teaching me how to spike a ball and I ended up being the whistle girl for an entire quarter. I lost my dignity, people! I took my chances with this class.

On 9/11, my teacher, entered the room wearing her normal outfit of grey leotard and black leggings. Her face belonged to a woman well into her 50s while her body resembled a woman in her 20s. It was totally illogical.

She announced that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. She made us all sit in a circle to discuss our feelings. I remember looking at my friend Julie and scoffing.

My feelings? I grew up in a small rural farming town in South Georgia, I didn’t even know what the World Trade Center was.

The girl sitting to the right of me busted out crying. Why was she so emotional? The teacher ushered her out to call her family. I would find out later that her sister worked at the towers. The others sat around and contemplated the reason for the plane crash. At this point none of us knew that it was a “terrorist” attack. In 2001, cell phones were not considered necessities. The only kids that I knew with cell phones had helicopter parents.

After 9/11, there definitely seemed to be a spike in cell phone owners. This is why I remember that a tall girl with a blonde ponytail did receive a cell phone call. Her room mate was watching the news and told her that another plane had crashed into the tower. She lowered the phone and yelled that one of the towers was collapsing. There was a collective gasp of 30 or so girls. With that our teacher let us out of class early.

My University was the size of a small city. With around 30,000 students enrolled, the only way to get around campus was via bus line. When I left class that morning, the campus transit was not operating routes because of the attacks. This meant that I had to walk about a mile and a half to the pay lot where my car was parked.

I was a broke college student and probably didn’t even have a quarter to stop at a pay phone and call someone to pick me up, nor did I think about it. I stepped out into the streets with the hoards of other undergraduates. There was no such thing as text messaging or social networks in that day. Instantaneously we did not know the gravity of the situation or that our lives had changed forever.

I remember hearing the laughter in the crowd and the normal horse play of my fellow undergraduates while we passed orange barricades marking every street corner and police officers dressed in black uniforms blowing whistles to direct the on foot traffic. The circling lights from the idle cop cars every few feet, made it apparent that something important had happened; but we didn’t think of our safety; we had never had to think of our safety.

By the time I reached my apartment, the second tower had already collapsed and I was informed by watching replays of the events. After being educated about the World Trade Center, I remembered feeling incredibly sad. I tried to call home but the lines were jammed for a few days. When I finally got through, everyone in my family was okay. Life went on slightly altered.

For me a lot has changed in eleven years, my mother had brain surgery (twice), I graduated from college, my father passed away, I got married, we moved from Georgia to the Midwest and from the Midwest to the West Coast, and all the beautiful chaos in between those moments. Sometimes it is hard for me to comprehend how a person can pack so much into so little time, but I am sure that I am a stronger person for it.

However I have to admit that sometimes I find myself reminiscing to those sweet moments when I was an irresponsible, naïve college student that had never heard of the “twin towers” and our American security never crossed my mind, as those sweet moments were only the beginning.

What is your 9/11 story? Where were you and what were you doing the moments before the terrorist attacks?


9 thoughts on “In Remembrance of 9/11- My Story

  1. Your story reminds us all of how life is so very different now, than before the attack. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I don’t think any of us is able to say that we can’t remember where we were, and what we were doing at the time of the attack. The event is forever in our memories, just the way JFK’s assassination was for our parents’ generation.

  2. I, too, was an undergraduate. I was actually a freshman, and I was in chemistry lab that morning. It started at 8am, and we had to mix a bunch of stuff and tell if the resulting compound was acidic or basic. Fun stuff. I was fast with my experiment, so I got to leave early.

    I remember walking through the commons, and seeing the news on TV. Except, it was only covering the flight 93, so I didn’t realize it was anything more than a single plane crash.

    When I arrived back at my dorm, my roommate filled me in on everything. I was just in time to watch the towers collapse. There are just some things you can never unsee, some things that just stay with you forever. I remember watching people jumping from the top, holding hands, just so they didn’t have to burn to death. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

    Our RA held a meeting where we all talked about what was going on. Then, my best friend and I went to a candlelight vigil that evening.

    So… that’s my story.

  3. I was at work at the museum and a colleague told me about the first plane. Honestly, my first thought was “what kind of dork runs into a building with a plane?” We all gathered in the conference room and watched our television. When the second plane hit, I was horrified that we were watching people die. And we knew it wasn’t some freak accident. When the towers collapsed and we heard the reports from the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, we were all afraid. One of my friends worried aloud about her nephew, who worked at the Pentagon (he died in the crash). I was a new mom at the time and I left work hurriedly, picked up my infant daughter and went home. All I could think was that I wanted to be with her and I couldn’t bear to have her even a block away. Later that day, I strolled her around what was usually our busy urban neighborhood. The day was exquisitely beautiful. And my neighborhood was absolutely silent.

  4. I was sitting on a pub in Belfast – had a day off and just ordered my free birthday lunch in company with some of the girls from our office. The TV was on – but not the sound … plus that one of the girls – her sister lives in NYC. I was the one that saw that one of the towers was on fire and told the other girls. One of them asked for the sound to be turned up – while she walked up the bar the second plan hit the other tower. We thought it was a fire at first, but seeing the plan flying directly into the second tower – we relished that this was something planed.

    After lunch when back on the office – nobody knew anything about it – so all TV’s was suddenly turned on.

    In the evening my boss and his family had planned a big birthday party for me at their home, but it was all cancelled and I cried for nearly 3 full days. I was so upset and in total shock. The sadness comes back to me on every birthday .. since 2001.

  5. What a beautiful post to honor 9/11. I live in Scotland and I remember it all too well. I was a newly wed (married sep 1st) and carrying my first baby (sadly l lost her the day before she was due.) I was signed off work so I stuck on the tv and was horrified to see that that a plane had struck a building in NYC. At first I thought it was a tragic accident but when a second plane hit it became apparent it was not. I saw the poor people jumping to their deaths and I cried. I felt very scared for my future family and my sister who was flying out to Australia that day and she was stuck in London because all flights were grounded.

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