Sep. 11th, 2016

howeverbrief: (Skull)
It is extremely strange to think it has been 15 years since the world trade center attacks. In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday.

I remember waking up annoyed around 6:00 in the morning because some idiots were running around in the hallway yelling about something. I chalked that up to dorm living and went back to sleep until it was time to get up for my first class of the morning, which was at 9:00 or 10:00. By the time I was headed to class, the large TV in the lounge area downstairs was playing what I thought was a movie: the first tower on fire; another plane flying into the second. Weird thing to be playing that early in the morning. If I recall right, the person behind the desk was gasping.

I walked to class, Spanish 101, and when I got in, my classmates were talking about upwards of 15 downed planes and about how there were snipers on the roof of the White House. Again, it sounded like a movie. Stuff like that doesn't happen in real life, only in the imaginations of Hollywood shills trying to make the next blockbuster.

Then my teacher, a tiny lady from Mexico who I always remember as being strict but impeccably dressed, came in, visibly shaken. She told us of the attacks; told us to take care of each other; told us there would be no classes today; told us to go home.

I called my mother, who was in a hotel with my father because their anniversary was the day before. I wanted to know she was okay and to hear a friendly voice. Mostly what I remember is her being annoyed with me for calling and saying of course it would all be okay.


But so much has happened in fifteen years. Airport security protocol changes. Bombings. Terrorist groups scattered and re-surged. Mass shootings. Wars. The rise of racist rhetoric. Political division and unrest. The fact that most of these words are plural and each can be written about extensively. I can go into detail about what I remember from a day fifteen years ago, but to sum up everything that has happened since and all of the consequences thereof is infinitely mind-boggling. So much happened and so little remains in my memory of it all that it feels like the butt of time's great practical joke.

My experience is not unique. I did not suffer personally that day, as many did, nor will I claim any great insight from it all. A lot of it still reads as a senseless tragedy, and years worth of reflection and distance has not changed that, only added nuance to the struggle to understand why events like this happen and how we fail to prevent them. All those people dead in a single act, set into motion over the course of years and executed near perfectly by those determined to make themselves heard. Their voices are still reverberating in our bones.

I am only an observer, and a passive one at that. I wonder what it takes to evoke change in this very volatile world, but I am very different from the person who heard of the attacks fifteen years ago and immediately began trying to make sense of it, certain that there would be a way to make sense of it in the coming days. My concerns have shifted in ways I wouldn't have known about then, and I am the only one to blame for my complacency, my cynicism, my helplessness over what happened and what could be done about it. I suppose in the end it is hard to know for sure, as powers greater than the individual are always at play. It is hard to say, but it is much harder to feel like I should have something better to say after all this time. No, the years have gone by in almost a blur, but the uncertainty of those first few hours remains static and undiminished.

A lot happens in fifteen years. Still, in a lot of ways, I am stuck in a single day.


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