Friday, September 11, 2009

The Day Hurt & Confusion Thrived

On the day of September 11, 2001 I was at school in Charlotte, NC. For about a week I had been sitting nervously watching CNN day-in and day-out. I just simply could not shake this eerie feeling that something big was about to happen, but had no clue what. I never in a million years would have guessed the events that were to come.

I woke up that Tuesday morning struggling with whether or not to go to my International Politics class because it just felt like a really bad day. My blinds were drawn, so my room was dark, but it didn't matter because the day had started off dark and cloudy, just like my mood. I sat in bed watching CNN, then decided I would go ahead and go, although I felt like maybe I should just sleep the day away. I entered class and sat down in the front row waiting for the professor to come in. I waited...and waited...and waited...she finally arrived after being 12 minutes late. We were a little disappointed since the University had a rule that if a professor was 15 minutes or more late to class the students could bail out. Anyway, she walks in asking "did you all hear what happened??? A plane has just crashed into one of the WTC". "What does that mean?" I wondered. I mean seriously, what did that mean to me? I felt back for the people, but ok, why is it such a big deal that was late for class? Well, she was the first person I heard say that she didn't think it was an accident, but a terrorist attack. About 5 minutes later class was dismissed because the area television news stations wanted to interview her.

I left class and headed to the Student Union. As soon as I walked in I saw the second plane hit. I just felt numb, still confused about what it all meant. I headed to Prospector, the cafeteria in the center of campus, and ran into my friends there. They were all nervous, anxious. My friend Abdulla was pacing saying "they are going to blame it on us! They are going to blame it on us!" I was all "wtf are you talking about?" I was so oblivious to current events and lost during that time. Surely we wouldn't immediately blame arabs right?

I sat there until I heard about the Pentagon being hit. Umm yeah, that was a little too close to home, so I had to get out of there. I started to get up from the table when the towers collapsed. My head started spinning. What the hell was going on??? I jetted out of the cafeteria and started to head back to my apartment, trying to call my parents. My mom works on capitol hill, and most of my other family members do as well. Freaking out is an understatement. I couldn't get through to anyone. It was then that I made friends with other folks from around the Washington, DC area. We found each other in the ruckus around campus, kind of feeling out of place in NC instead of with our DC family.

I finally got back to my apartment complex to watch CNN with my bff Jackie for the next few days (yeah, no one went to class the rest of that week), and we were just shocked. Majority of our friends were Arab, and there was this weird tension. More-so them trying to decide if we were still ok, wanting to be sure we knew that they did not support what happened, they weren't that "kind" of Arab. We assured them that I wasn't that kind of American, and Jackie wasn't that kind of African to just generalize all Arabs because of what this particular group of people decided to do.

I walked through that semester in a complete daze. I went back to my International Politics class twice, but stopped because the professor constantly talked about the various ways the US could get blown to pieces. I was already having nightmares about 9/11, so I thought ummm, I'll pass.

My family was ok. My mom was shook, and looking over her shoulders, but alive. My aunts and friends stayed at their government buildings until late Tuesday night when things were a little calmer and they could make it home.  My aunt that worked on Wallstreet was a mess, but again, alive. My dads father was at home in Queens, safe and sound. I didn't lose anyone that day, thank God! And fortunately, I didn't know many people that had. In that sense it was far removed from me, but because this is my country, and a larger part of my family, it was so personal, and so was the hurt and confusion.