Back in 2011, I was in college. I was a sophomore taking a philosophy class that Tuesday, and as we discussed whether we were actually real beings or if we existed as only the dream or nightmare of a being totally independent of ourselves. As the lecture ended and we heard "I think, therefore I am," the professor asked if we had heard that a plane had accidentally hit the World Trade Center. We were concerned, yes, but it didn't seem like a tragedy, as harsh as that sounds. It sounded like a horrible accident, and that was it. Little did we know that as we discussed existing, all hell was breaking loose in the world.
I waited for my boyfriend (now husband) and friend Dee to get out of the class next door, and as the footsteps of my classmates headed up the chapel basement steps into the bright blue above, I heard quiet sobs from a corner. I tried ignoring her, but she kept at it, so I finally headed over and asked what was wrong. She looked at me skeptically. "Didn't you hear?" she said. "There has been a terrorist attack. The World Trade Centers have been hit by planes." I smiled and reassured her that she was wrong, yes, a plane had hit, but it was accidental. Of course it was accidental. But she continued to tell me that there were two, there was no accident.
I stared at her as the class I was waiting for finally was excused, and without a word I headed over to the two I was waiting for. As I was visibly shaken, Craig asked what was wrong, and I told him what she had said. As we made our own way up the steps into the bright sunshine and brilliant blue sky, it was not difficult to agree with him that she was misinformed. Of course she was. We parted at our separate dorms and went to our rooms.
I don't remember the rest of the day like I remember these few moments. I know my roommate told me it was all true, she was watching it, we all did for hours that day. Classes were cancelled. I remember all this, but not like those moments with the girl, and I didn't even know her name.
I think the reason that moment stuck with me is that it was the moment the world changed, from where I was a young, naive college student discussing philosophy to an adult who realized how the world could change in an instant. It was like someone lifted a colored shade I had been using to view the world, and now everything looked much different, much more scary.
Something has happened since that day ten years ago: I had a child. Now, these moments replayed on the History channel frighten me even more. The replaying of answering machine messages touch me in a different way, and every name read at ground zero is someone's child or parent. It's impossible to comprehend, to wrap my head around how this happened and how I'd react if it happened today.
I don't know what my answer is or how to get there. All I'm certain of is that I am a different person now than I was 10 years and 1 day ago.