Friday, September 9, 2011

Where Were You on 9/11?

Everyone's doing it -- the obligatory "Where Were You on 9/11?" blog post. What were you thinking, feeling, eating, saying. Were you asleep? Standing up? Waiting in line at the grocery store? Maybe you were taking your kids to school or in the hospital mourning a passing relative. Were you burying someone? Were you giving birth? What were you doing? Who were you? Ten years have passed, and the defining moment of my generation is September 11, 2001. The moments when we found out are clear, and the rest of the day is a blur.

Essex County (NJ) 9/11 Memorial (My Photo)
I was in Citizenship Issues course -- the bane of all of our existences, it was a required course for all seniors to discuss and learn about our country and its branches of government, policies, and procedures. I can't remember how we found out, but the school immediately shut down academic operations and turned on emotional operations. TVs and radios were on in every classroom. We stopped learning and started watching, breathing, doing whatever was necessary to swallow reality without spitting it back up.

Then I went on to Calculus, where I grabbed the hand of my then-boyfriend Kevin and just stared at the TV screen, watching everything unfold. Kevin and I broke up less than a month later, shortly before my 18th birthday. I entered adulthood with images of falling bodies and ash.

In choir class, all we could say was, "We were just there." And we had been. My junior year, Concert Choir took a big trip to New York. It was my first time out of the midwest, my first time to a city bigger than Kansas City or Tulsa. We soaked everything up -- the food, the music, Broadway, the buildings. The buildings. In our pictures, there they are! Just months before, the Twin Towers, standing tall behind us. Did we know what they were? Did we care? Or did we just miss them when they were gone, a hole in the skyline, a gap in time.

The rest of the day was a blur. I don't remember classes or going home or what our parents must have tried to say to us to calm us down. My little brother was just a kid, I was almost an adult. We were so far away from it in Nebraska, but what most of this country doesn't know is that Middle America is called the Heartland for a reason -- we feel everything that happens in this country, and we feel it harder and louder. When any part of the U.S. bleeds, Middle America dies a little more.

The past 10 years have seen much in my life change.

  • I have two degrees and am working on two more.
  • I have lived in Nebraska, Colorado, Washington (D.C.), Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
  • I have dated countless folk, become engaged, and married. 
  • I have visited Israel four times.
  • I have learned a new language (Hebrew).
  • I have converted, twice, within Judaism.
  • I have legally changed my name from Amanda Jo Edwards to Chaviva Jo Galatz.
  • I have watched friends come and go and come and go.
  • I have become the proud aunt of four boys.
  • I have grown up.
Ten years has flown by. Just like August -- zip, and it's gone. Will we continue to remember? It's embedded in my early adulthood, it colored my senior year of high school in more ways than one. I won't forget, will you?

From the Just Call Me Chaviva archives on 9/11:
  • Mentions of 9/11 (of which there are quite a few, actually)
  • 2006: On this day in History
  • 2003 (from my retired LiveJournal): "Two years ago right now, I was done with lunch and sitting in CI, if I remember correctly. Or maybe I was in Science. I was at school. And regardless of where I was, every TV was on in Northeast High School with the station tuned in to the news showing the planes crashing, and crashing, and it was like a tape on repeat. And that, is where I was. Now, it's raining. I don't have a television to watch what's going on. I can't see what the news has to say in rememberance. I just know it's sunny in New York City, and it's cloudy here. And I don't mind. Give them all the sunshine they need. I had mine."