Ten years ago I was fresh out of college and had just finished the summer working as a camp counselor. I had only been back home for a little over two weeks and was just getting readjusted to my old life. The job search was in its first stages and life was pretty easy. I stayed a few nights with my grandmother. We hadn't seen much of each other the last several years and it was a good time to reconnect. I spent those days watching lots of television and eating her good cooking.
Tuesday morning I slept in just a bit. She was having her flooring rebuilt and the noise of the workers woke me. As I drug my pink pajamad self out of bed, I could tell something else was happening. The television was so loud and no one was really working, they were just standing around.
"What's going on?" I asked my grandmother. She explained to me that two airplanes had just hit the World Trade Center in New York City. My next question was, "What do you mean?". I thought she was telling me that a pilot had lost control while trying to land or something of that nature.
I was wrong.
I got breakfast and joined millions of others as they watched the two towers burn. Completely astonished as details emerged, I was in for the shock of my short life as CNN's Aaron Brown became speechless when a massive white cloud exploded into the air from downtown Manhattan. No one expected the towers to collapse. I thought, "Those people didn't get out, they didn't have time!"
The rest of the day I spent on the phone with relatives and friends while still remaining glued to the television screen. For many years my life had been really simple, the American dream I had always seen was not one of war and terror, but of peace and prosperity. I really didn't even know anyone in the military. America was almost a world of fantasy and endless possibility, at least in the eyes of its youth. A place far from the complexities other countries faced. The America my friends and I knew was a place of parades and promise, a land of beauty and bounty. We had always had all we needed or wanted. We spent the weekends at the beach or at ball games. Went to school as we were advised and assumed we would have a Norman Rockwell type of life. We thought we were untouchable. Not just individually, but as a people. Perhaps it was the naivety of youth, but I think it was the mindset of most Americans. An attack on our soil was unimaginable. Even during W.W.II only Hawaii had been attacked, and it was an entire ocean away. But New York and Washington D.C.? That was the continental United States, if terrorist were there, they could be here, where I was.
That night I rewatched all the footage I had already seen at least twelve times. I was completely mesmerized. The trauma seemed so overwhelming and never ending. I continued this pattern for several more days. I cried easily. I hadn't even lost anyone and lived far from the east coast, but I knew my life would never be the same.
Weeks of constant coverage of 9/11 continued. I think we all forgot what life was like before the attack. The events of that day were all consuming and completely devastating.
At some point in the early hours of September 12, I thought to myself, "Even though this seems like the end of the world and nothing else could possibly matter at this moment, someday I will look back and this day will be ten years ago."
And now it is.