My new job started last Tuesday, and being back on a college campus makes me so nostalgic. I’m a decade older (and hopefully wiser) but it still feels like yesterday that I was finding my way around Hope’s campus, learning where to sit in Phelps (and sitting in the “wrong” place for fun sometimes). And getting to know all of my new neighbors in Scott Hall, several of whom are now my closest friends.
Yesterday, of course, was 9/11, and while I don’t mean to be flippant, a memory resurfaced that I think I had tried to forget. 9/11 happened during my sophomore year; I woke up to a phone call from my dad telling me to turn on the tv. I watched in horror with my neighbors.
It’s not that I was unaware of the impact, but maybe in my youth or disbelief or downright denial, I did something that has embarrassed me to this day. It was maybe an hour or two after the buildings had collapsed. I was walking through campus and saw a professor, whose class was coming up shortly. I shouted across the way (his was one of my more relaxed classes, to say the least!), “So, I guess class is cancelled?”
But I hadn’t noticed yet how quiet campus had become, and this professor sort of grimaced, and “shushed” me as he walked closer. He was kind, but I was already mortified. Yes, class was cancelled that day, but in a way, that was the first moment that I really let myself believe that this was monumental, that things might never be the same again. I know that might sound cold, that perhaps I should have fully realized this as I watched the buildings crumble into ash on live news feeds. But perhaps because it was so unbelievable at first, I said that stupid thing. And I still wince when I think of it.
That morning, everything stopped. Not just classes, but everything: we were all in a state of shock. The photo of our prayer service appeared in national news, alongside the many other reactions and experiences across our nation.
Now, nine years later, so much has changed and yet it feels as though we’re treading water. My dad is in Afghanistan. My cousin was shot there this year (thankfully, he’s home and doing well). My father, brother, cousin, friends have all been overseas. And we’re watching news tonight about how Bin Laden still isn’t caught, about a Quran burning that was barely stopped, about a community center that has been grossly misunderstood.
This is a little heavy and again, I don’t mean to be flippant about 9/11 or any of its implications. I guess, I’m trying to be real: that’s what really happened for me that morning. It feels as stupid as it sounds, but that was part of my morning, part of my finally realizing the true scope of what I saw.
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