14 years. I don’t even know how to process that kind of passage of time. The fact that I can remember what I was doing 14 years ago means that I’m basically a fossil. It’s weird how memories work. I couldn’t tell you anything about the morning of 9/11/2001. Not a thing. And I couldn’t tell you about that night either. But there are vivid memories of specific points of that day. Like when a teacher ran into my Reading class (I was in 7th grade) and told our teacher to turn on the TV because someone had flown planes into something. I heard the word tower, which I immediately associated with Eiffel. I remember thinking, why is this woman in such a panic over the Eiffel tower? No one lives in the Eiffel tower. Also, how do you fly a plane into the Eiffel tower? Seems like it would take more work than it’s worth. Why is this news? Those were my exact stream of thoughts. My teacher was acting completely hysterical and I was so confused.
Then I realized it was not the Eiffel tower. We spent the rest of the day (I was in a huge public school so there was a lot of commotion/mayhem) going from class to class watching the news. I think that’s all we did that day was watch the news in different classrooms. Some of our teachers made us write reactions about it. I think we were sent home early, and when I got home my dad was watching TV and crying. He grew up in NYC, and we still had family there. My last actual memory of that day was my dad just staring at the TV.
I don’t remember anything about the day after that, or the day before that. I know that afterwards we had to listen to the national anthem every single day at school and recite the pledge of allegiance. This felt patriotic for about a week, but then we just kept doing it for the rest of the school year and nobody was sure why. I went to the same school the next year and we had to continue doing that, and some students were really over it by then. I had an English teacher who was a very odd bird, her toes looked like Fritos and her eyebrows were painted on in the exact shape of the St. Louis Arch. Anyway, some of the students would sit down early, like before the person sang the last note of the national anthem, and boy she would fuss. The response was usually “F**k you” because, well it was a public school and they preyed on the weak teachers, and she was weak unfortunately. I was the goody goody and would always stay standing the whole time, she counted on that. I knew she liked me because I was one of the only students who hadn’t cussed her out or thrown something at her. But one day I was feeling pretty tired and annoyed, so I sat down before the anthem was over and she was shocked. I think she actually talked to me about it, that she didn’t want me to become like the rest of them. It was a whole deal.
Anyway, yeah. 9/11 was an incredibly significant event in America’s recent history. It blows my mind though that there are people who see 9/11 like I see the JFK shooting. Something that happened when I wasn’t alive, but I hear about it all the time and how traumatic it was for everyone. That’s such an odd thing.
This is a really long post. I’ll end it here before I start going into some kind of political manifesto about how America hasn’t learned anything from our past tragedies because we’re still a nation filled with hateful, intolerant people. Whoops.
Oh wait, one more story about my Frito footed 8th grade English teacher. Our school was predominantly black, and she was this odd old white lady, so you have some context. One morning when we were listening to the national anthem, after it finished, she made some comment about how it was Mariah Carey that sung it. And the class just lost it. I mean, any hearing person would’ve realized that it was Whitney Houston’s iconic version of the national anthem, but that lady stuck to her guns, even while the class berated her and called her all kinds of unkind things. It’s funny to me now, how adamantly she defended her position to a bunch of black 8th graders. But she stood brave in the face of adversity. I wonder how she is now? I wish I could find her and apologize for the hell those kids put her through. They were awful to her. I hated that class, and I didn’t like her much because she was a terrible teacher, but she didn’t deserve to be treated the way she was. I hope she quit eventually and retired somewhere nice.
Okay bye for real this time.
Love, tolerate! Appreciate. 🙂