Yesterday was September 11, 2011. I cringe at the sound of that date. The simple words, nine eleven, are so heavy and weighted with so much history and meaning. To be honest, it’s something I have avoided thinking about for the past nine-ish years.
On 9/11/01, I had just moved to Dallas. I was working for a small advertising agency and trying to settle into my new life. I remember waking up that morning to my radio alarm clock (remember those?). I didn’t hear my usual morning show banter or the latest pop song, I woke up to something much different. As I tried to clear my head and figure out what I was hearing, I got dressed and headed to work. It wasn’t until I got to work and talked to a co-worker, Sarah, that I realized what was happening. And even then, I really had no idea. She immediately said, “It’s Osama Bin Laden.” I remember thinking, “Who? What is she talking about?”
Let me backtrack and say that as a young adult, I never watched news, read the paper or kept up with anything that wasn’t a part of my immediate life. I knew more about the world when I was in high school because my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Stockbridge, would not let us pass high school if we didn’t throughly understand what was happening between the Sunnis and the Shiites. I remember going home and my dad being so impressed that I even knew those words. Being a history buff and political junkie, his mouth watered as I showed interest in the world. And then I went to college. I became totally self involved. I never read the paper and I rarely watched TV (except the occasional 90210 drinking game parties). I had no idea what was happening outside of the Trinity University Bubble.
As 9/11/01 unfolded, I stay glued to my friend’s TV (our TV didn’t work for some reason). I stayed at Chuck’s house for hours and hours, crying and watching the tragedy. I watched it so much that I became obsessed. I couldn’t sleep at night. I had nightmares. I felt terrible for having such a good life. For the first time, I felt scared that maybe we were all in danger. So, I decided to stop cold turkey. I stopped watching TV, I stopped reading the paper, I stopped listening to anything related to 9/11. I pretended that it didn’t happen. And I did this for years.
Fast forward to yesterday. I was so ignorant about it all, I thought last year was the 10th anniversary. Yes, I realize it’s simple math, but I avoided even thinking about the year that it happened. John and I went about our Sunday, making breakfast, going shopping and teaching/taking my class at 4pm. Someone walked into the studio and mentioned it. I immediately changed the subject and said, “People do not come to yoga to be reminded of this.” I didn’t even mention it in the final comments of class. It’s like it was a regular Sunday afternoon.
After dinner, John asked, “What do you want to do?” I said, “We need to watch something about 9/11.” He looked at me and without saying anything, he nodded in agreement. It was interesting. Neither of us had mentioned it much that day. But we knew we had a responsibility, as Americans, to honor the day, the people and the country. We turned on the TV and watched a special on the 9/11 Commission Report. Then we watched “9/11 As It Happened” which replayed the NBC coverage from that morning. We finished by watching the NBC 9/11 reporters talk about what it was like for them to deliver the news of the tragedy to the American people.
We held hands, cried and looked at each other a lot. We told each other we loved each other. We told each other how lucky we are. For the first time, we experienced it together. Then we recounted where we were that day, what we were doing and how we heard the news. It’s one of those days everyone remembers where they were, what they were doing and how they heard the news.
I woke up today feeling funky. Surprisingly, no nightmares, just a fogginess. Although I feel a little funny, I feel good that John and I honored an important day together. Life is not always a party, but ignoring the bad stuff doesn’t make it go away. I feel less ignorant, selfish and more connected to my fellow human beings. Today I am excited to connect with people, get out of my small mind, and live my life. It’s so easy for me, and many of us, to stay in our little worlds. But the big world will continue to happen, whether we choose to pay attention or not.
Last night, I said to John, “We need to get a flag for the house.” He said, “Yes, we do. Let’s get one this week.”