Almost every person I know remembers where they were when the attacks took place on September 11, 2001.
I’m out on the west coast, and when the first plane struck the WTC, it was only 5:46am here. I was sound asleep. In fact, on that particular day I was woken up by the phone, hours after all the planes had crashed. My boyfriend was calling because he had just heard on the news what had occurred. I rushed downstairs to turn on the news. I simply stared at the tv trying to comprehend what exactly it was I was watching.
You know, after a lifetime of watching Hollywood films your brain is trained, somewhat. You’re so accustomed to suspending your disbelief that when something as unexpected and profound as this happens your brain takes a while to truly process what you’re witnessing. And even then it tries to talk you out of exactly what your eyes are seeing.
You could tell that the newscasters, though they’d been playing the videos for a couple of hours by the time I tuned in, were still grappling with the enormity of what happened.
I spent the rest of the day glued to the tv trying to gain more information. I’ll readily admit, I’m an information junkie. I become near obsessive compulsive in gathering information, facts, figures, or whatever I feel the need to gather at the moment.
That evening I had a test with my first coven and it’s year and a day program. The students were to put together a particular ritual required by the teaching and tradition. As students we were a tiny bit anxious, I mean, it’s still a test. But now we’d spent the day swimming in the emotions of this immense tragedy so our ritual diverted at one point. We decided to send energy of healing, and strength to those who survived as well as love and whatever help we thought we could lend to those who passed on.
Unfortunately, I don’t really remember the rest of the test days in the following weeks, but that first one I do.
Last night at OC Pagan Meetup, as part of our normal introduction I asked members to consider sharing their 9/11 stories, where were they when it happened, how did it affect them, etc. It was a long process for intros, but I really enjoyed hearing all the different perspectives and learning how 9/11 directly or indirectly impacted their lives.
A handful of members, my husband included, were still in school. Chris was a junior that year, but some of the others were in middle school or elementary. It seemed that 9/11 made little impression upon them at that time.
One member was actually in boot camp during 9/11. She explained they weren’t informed about it until the next day and it wasn’t until after she was done with boot camp that she saw images. Though she served in the military at the time we invaded Afghanistan, she explained she didn’t feel the impact quite as intensely as the rest of us who watched the events unfold the morning of.
A couple of members had direct connections with the emergency response teams, NYFD mostly. One member explained that her husband and his business partner, who grew up in NY, actually went to ground zero to help with the emergency teams, and that her daughter was so influenced by what happened she joined the military.
It was touching to hear each person’s individual experience.
Dulles International Airport
I was flying home from Dulles International Airport (Washington DC) after having been on a two week road trip. That day was the 2 year anniversary of 9/11 and every tv in the airport was on and focused on the memorials in NY and DC. The overall feeling was sad and somber, and the airport was fairly empty as well. I assumed some people didn’t want to risk flying on that day. I was hesitant as well, but I had a weekend seminar to get home for and this was the best date to ensure I’d get back in time to attend.
So picture it, a brown girl (that’s me) with a 1 way ticket to the west coast, at a DC airport, on the 2 year anniversary of 9/11. But wait, it gets better…
They need to inspect my carry on. Not a problem, or so I thought. They kept scanning my bag, took everything out and scanned it again. Over and over. Meantime, I’m doing yoga postures while they wave the wand over me again and again. It’s been nearly an hour at this point. Honestly, I’m clueless about what’s going on. I just figure they were being very thorough nowadays because of 9/11. It seriously never dawned on me I was being profiled.
I had not flown anywhere after 9/11 until this day, and it had been 11 years since I’d been to Dulles so many of the procedures I was aware of, but had not yet experienced first hand. I knew to get to the airport very early to make it through security check so this long delay didn’t seem too odd… yet.
Suddenly, things change. Now there are a handful of people staring at my suitcase and looking at me, while I’m balancing on one foot, patting my head and rubbing my tummy. Actually, it was more like warrior pose. I really don’t know how much farther they wanted my feet apart. As I’m trying to give the even wider stance requested I notice that those people hanging around my suitcase look very serious. One gentleman asks if I packed my own bag. I explain that I did. He asks if I’m sure and has anyone else touched my bag, to which I replied that no one else has touched it. Then he asks me what was in the small brown paper bag stuffed into the side of my suitcase.
It was small, balled up, and quite wrinkled. At that moment I did not genuinely know what it was. I was confused and a little scared because now everyone around me was acting a little scared. They ran my case through the x-ray and just couldn’t figure out what it was. It was just a solid black mass about the size of a racquet ball and it triggered the metal detector. I looked at the x-ray and even I had no idea what it was, so I certainly couldn’t blame them for being a wee bit suspicious.
I was very perplexed and don’t recall if I was asked to open it or if someone else did. As soon as the bag was opened I realized what it was… my collection of metal fridge magnets, replicas of street signs from when we were in New Orleans the previous week. I felt a little dumb that I had totally forgotten about them! The mood lifted once they were unveiled. I was then allowed to repack my luggage and head toward my plane.