Today is not usually a day that I talk about much. Some years are better than others. For the most part I still feel angry.
At the time, I was living in New Jersey. I was a senior in high school. My town is about 10 miles across the water from where the World Trade Center was. Sure it takes forever to drive there, but just a short hop as the crow flies. My brother's apartment was about three buildings over from the WTC. About 80% of my family lived in NYC as well. I lived in a commuter town. A huge percentage of the population hopped on the trains and made their way into the city for their jobs. On several occasions my friends and I skipped school to go to the city just for fun.
Luckily, this was not one of those days. It was just a typical school day. We had TV's in most of the classrooms. I was leaving gym and getting ready to go to English. I heard teachers whispering in the halls. When I made it to English, I asked my teacher to turn on the news. There we just sad for hours watching everything unfold. It felt like forever. At one point, without making an announcement, the Principal cut off the feed. We all freaked out and thought that another building had been hit. Bad judgement on her part. My brother came and pulled me out of school a few minutes later. I just sat home with my parents watching the news. Our house sat on a hill. You could see the smoke plume from anywhere in our house. You could even smell it.
They needed volunteers to babysit at the elementary schools, too many parents were trapped in the city and couldn't get home in time to pick up their kids. I went and we just waited and played games with them. Some of their parents never came.
Friends of mine lost parents, I lost neighbors, and our whole community suffered. Houses that lost family members got yellow ribbons tied around trees in their yard.
I always get so angry. Sure I wasn't at the WTC that day, sure I wasn't even in the city. I was close enough. As a community we delt with the aftermath of that day for years.
There was this lookout point one town over. You could see the whole New York skyline. It became an impromptu memorial. People wrote notes, put pictures, stuck in flags, and tied yellow ribbons. My friends and I would go there all the time before... but after it was just transformed into this place where you couldn't escape that day. We used to go there to look optimistically at our futures. Afterwards it was just this constant reminder of that day.
A few weeks later, my friends and I took a day off school and went into the city. We stopped by "ground zero" and walked around. There were fences all around, covered with pictures and trinkets remembering those who had died. Even then, the smell still lingered, the ruins were still smoldering.
We didn't take pictures that day. It just didn't seem right. I know the day we visited will haunt me forever.
Watching something unfold on tv doesn't have the same impact. When I watch the news, I'm separated from whatever is happening, but when it's something you can see right outside your bedroom window, you can't have that same separation. It's there, in your face. When you know people personally affected, it really hits home.
I hate seeing those "remember" stickers on cars. I really hated those billboards that were everywhere for a while. I'm sure it's even worse for people who were in the city that day, but my first instinct when someone brings up something about 09/11 is that they don't understand, and just need to shut up.
Usually, I take the day off. I don't listen to the radio or watch tv. For the most part I don't even go where there's a chance someone will mention what day it is. Maybe that's weird, but it's the best way I know how to deal with it. It's the best way I know to avoid the possibility of snapping and freaking out on someone who brings it up.