when the world stopped turning.

i was in my classroom on september 11, 2001.

i was a 23-year-old teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies and english.  my 12- and 13-year-old students were, at the moment i heard, working on a project that required research.    they were scattered all over our tiny charter school building with their laptops, seeking room to spread out, using the wireless internet, and quietly working.

i remember it as clear as anything, how the receptionist passed the printed internet news story over to me, how all talk of it was in hushed whispers, how i stared at her and the paper without comprehension.   mostly, i remember not knowing what to think.

i don’t remember much else from that day. i remember the day after, when we talked to our students about it. i remember their fear and my fear as i tried to be strong and brave for them. i remember crying in my car that afternoon, driving home and listening to npr.  i remember the days following, when i lined up to donate money to the red cross. i remember the patriotic sign our school made using solo cups and a chainlink fence.

but i don’t remember anything else about that day.  i don’t remember what i did with my students when i had to pull them off of their project, not telling them why–administrative decision, not mine, although i’m not sure i would have known what to say.  i don’t remember what i was wearing or even what project they were working on.

i’m sure that lots of bloggers everywhere will be recollecting, remembering, paying tribute. that’s how it should be.

there are moments, i think, in your life that are at once culturally, historically, personally significant.  the world changed that day. it’s hard for me to remember what it once was. that saddens me.

for my mom it was president kennedy’s assassination. she can narrate it in eerie detail.

for my grandpa it was pearl harbor.

for me, it was a quiet day in september, when the air was beginning to take on a trace of fall and i was charged with maintaining the illusion of a world that existed at 8 that morning but didn’t at 1 that afternoon.

i’ll never forget it. that’s the way it should be, i think.

but in some ways, i wish i could remember september 10th more.

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One Response to “when the world stopped turning.”

  1. I agree. I remember it clear as yesterday. I was sitting in my World History class about to take my first test as a highschooler. I can’t tell you how I did on it because the only thing I can remember is choking back tears because my cousin who had stayed home sick from school that day lived in DC not 5 blocks away from the Washington Mall and there were early reports about the it being on fire. I can’t forget the days after that, praying for people and hearing the first estimates of the casualties…but the thing I remember the most? Is the way the country pulled itself together and became America, in the greatest sense of the word. Political parties didn’t matter. Uniting as a single front, one nation under God was all that mattered. That is what stays with me.

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