On September 11, 2001, I stood in my office in a 48 story building in the middle of Downtown Dallas. Working on a legal document at my desk, I heard a flurry of activity in the hallway. One person said, “Have you heard? An airplane hit a the World Trade Center in New York.” At that point, other lawyers and the partners at my firm decided to turn on the television. In a big conference room overlooking the skyline of Dallas, I witnessed the second plane hit the second tower. Was this really happening? I recall pinching my skin to ensure that, yes, I was not imagining the burst of flames, the smoke and ash, the screams of sheer terror on the streets of New York. I believe everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing the moment our American history changed.
In June of that same year, I married my husband and for our honeymoon we traveled across various cities in Europe. In those days, I never recall a thorough search of our belongings in airport security or a suspicious look directed toward my husband because he failed to shave his 3 day stubble on his face. One incident that I remember during our travels occurred in Paris at De Gaulle Airport. I bought a painting during our stay there and forgot the white canister that held it at airport security. After getting to our boarding area, I realized I forgot it. My husband walked through security to retrieve it. At no point, was he asked for his passport or questioned about reentering areas he already cleared. Within 10 minutes, he retrieved the canister and we boarded our plane. There was a definite level of freedom I not only could feel but see in those days prior to 9-11.
We live in a much different time now, but I wonder how many of us do forget what happened on that day in our daily lives. Why does it take an anniversary to remember what was lost? How many of us are consciously cognizant of our everyday blessings? All the things we do everyday that make up the content and context of our lives, even the most mundane and routine undertakings are the ones that should penetrate our lives the most. What are those things? To drive to work. To drink that cup of coffee. To sing Happy Birthday to a friend. To hug our children. To kiss our spouses before they go to work. To listen to the birds sing. To sleep in bed. To go to a restaurant with our families.
There is that same freedom present in my day-to-day life that I experienced during my travels. But I forget.
I am apt to complain about the trivial and to get upset about little things. I forget sometimes that participating in life is a sheer blessing. We should not forget. Everyday we should remember, in honor of those that lose their lives needlessly everyday across the world, that just breathing, living, and walking through the life we have is something that we should hold in the light.
Not just because the day on the calendar says 9/11.
Image via Luxtica
September 11th changed us all forever. That day started like every day , we were having coffee and we were watching GMA when the first plane hit. By the time the second plane hit we were calling our best friend. His father was working in the towers. He was there that day and thankfully he survived. We were consumed for days, watching in horror and crying. Daniel was an infant and Josh was in high school. I kept him from school that day. We have friends that lost loved ones. I will never be the same.
This is beautiful, Rudri, and I’m sorry I had missed it when you first posted it. Like you, my husband and I also married earlier that year. I was living in Japan at the time, and it was lat-ish evening when the planes hit. We always had American CNN on, and so I saw it happen, though I didn’t understand it. Was it a fire? It took me some time to understand what was really going on. Then I tried desperately to reach my brother, who was working in Manhattan. Phone lines were blocked and I finally got through via email. He was still home.
It was hard dealing with this overseas, because as sympathetic as others are, it is not the same feeling as when it happens to your own country. I did work with some Americans and we spoke, but life went on as usual the next day at work. I felt a speechless kind of grief that had nowhere to go.
I miss the unspoken security of those days, the freedom and trust in the airport that you described. The Boston Marathon bombings were only too painful of a reminder of the cloud that is always hanging over us now.