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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Write Back Weekend "September Morn"

The day started like any other. I had been at work about a half hour. As usual, the doldrums set in early once I realized that I was about to embark on yet another day with nothing worthwhile to do. In theory, this might sound like a worker's dream, but the reality was far different. I actually preferred to be busy. At least when you were busy, you were passing the time instead of being a clockwatcher.

I had only been working at this job for a few months now. My official title was Print Production Assistant, but I soon came to realize that was just a fancy way of saying that I was a glorified gopher. Being the low man on the totem pole in a new place made it harder to make new friends, too. Soon though I developed a friendship with a graphic artist who was my age and who had only been working there a little bit longer than me.

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I sat at my desk, bored to tears before stopping by my friend's office to see what she was doing. She mentioned something about the Twin Towers and superficially, I skimmed over it, talking about something else entirely. I don't even recall what the topic shifted to, but since I was still ingesting my morning coffee, the weight of what she was saying hadn't struck either one of us yet. Neither one of us were moving on to be rude, we were moving on out of ignorance to a situation that had yet to unfold.

Not long after that, the office was abuzz with talk of the Twin Towers attack. Still by this point not much information was known as fact. I heard stories of some workers huddled around computer screens and a TV set somewhere in the office. As word started to spread, the panic started to set in. After this the details are hazy. I don't remember if my boyfriend called me or I called him. Soon after that it became hard to reach anyone as everyone was attempting to reach a loved one, to verify whereabouts, and to claim a false sense of security, if only for a little while.

Soon after that the unthinkable happened, the office announced it was closing early for the day. Suddenly the idea of being cooped up in my cubicle seemed far more appealing that going home to an empty house. At least there I had the comfort of being surrounded by others. Relative strangers in many ways, but other people in the same boat, nonetheless. All of these movies had been made about the "Armageddon" glamorizing world catastrophes where people like Will Smith or Tom Cruise would be sent in to save the day. But that was just dress rehearsal. This was real life.

The other strong detail I remember from that day was the drive home. Living in NJ, driving can often be a bit of a battlefield. My ride home was not an overly congested on on an average day, but the road was packed with many chaotic drivers, coming and going instead of staying put. The thing that struck me about the chaos on the roads the most though was the complete absence of rudeness on that day. Drivers were letting other drivers in, waving people on in stunned silence. Suddenly, there was a camaraderie on the roadway, something I had never seen before and if I'm being honest, I haven't seen it since.

When I finally got home I did what most other people did from various walks of life and from varying locations, I watched the news, when I could stomach it, checking in for updates. I couldn't bear to see the initial attack footage any more and the urban legend stories about what as actually happening at ground zero began to spread like wildfire. At a certain point I wanted to avoid the news, not out of disrespect, but out of disbelief, not knowing how to react to the growing unknowns. Here we were, Americans, living in what was supposed to be the safest country in the world, or at least one of them. In mere seconds, we were brought to our knees in a seemingly avoidable act, one to this day leaves some question marks and speculation. It's the unknowns and the conspiracy theories that make me cringe most of all.

For months after September 11th, America seemed to be running in slow motion. Things weren't "back to normal", but we had started to move on slowly but surely. Now here it is, six years later and on most days I dare to say Americans have returned to their old ways. The arrogance came back with vengeance, along with rudeness to each other. It seems that common decency was only temporary insanity, and that's a shame. Out of September 11th, a time full of hatred and fear, a lot of change could have been born. But I can't help but think that change was fleeting. Sure some of us live our lives differently, but the residual effects of that day have left most of us more guarded with good reason, but not necessarily more gracious.

Right after the events of September 11th unfolded, my boyfriend had trouble sleeping. He swears to this day that he had a premonition type of a dream that mirrored the general events of September 11th. Of course when he had the bad dream he thought it was just that, a dream. As his was able to draw parallels from his dream to real life was when he started to get freaked out by the whole experience. Most people can't say they saw it's those who have and still choose to live their lives in the exact same way. No one who lived through that day sees things exactly the same anymore. Choosing to believe otherwise, no matter what time has passed, is the real ignorance.



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