September 2001: A Glimpse Into My Life

You’ll have to excuse me, but this summer has been a freak show of chaos and if it weren’t for the expiration date on my mozzarella, I would have had no clue that we were approaching the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001. I know lately I’ve put on my introspective alter ego and you’re all, “What the crap – where am I?”  Well, I’ve got bad news. It’s not gettin any better today. Because how crass would it be of me to write about my newest Facebook stalker or my dad’s latest embarrassment story on the upcoming anniversary of such a horrendous day?

Pretty crass. And even I’m not that crass.

So I got to thinking about 9/11/01 and where I was. Not just physically, but in my life. It was my first year of college and I was curling my hair in my box of a bedroom (and most likely accidentally burning my forehead) while my mom was making pancakes. Sidenote: my mom’s pancakes might be one reason why I’ll never leave the Midwest. At that time, just one tower had been hit and I headed off to my college class… something about morals and ethical gray areas. Class was cancelled but we all sat there glued to the TV, completely awestruck. As I got in my car to go home and a Lifehouse song came on the radio, I found myself looking around me, as if something was going to blow up in front of my face. It was a weird feeling.

As for the rest of my life, it was all very blank. I was dating one of the best men I’ve ever met to this day, and yet, I would soon discover that timing really is everything. I had yet to experience that nauseating feeling in your stomach when someone tells you that they just don’t want you anymore. Or even worse, when they do something that proves they don’t.

My eyebrows were tragic. But not as tragic as my dark lipstick. Or my Orange County tan. I had yet to experience a good kiss. The kind that makes you forget where you are.

I had plans of settling down at 24, kids by 27 and hanging around the house with a husband who made me laugh. Assuming, of course, I would have the same friends by then and we would all have dinner parties together and our kids would grow up to be besties. I’ve never been so entirely wrong about anything in my life, aside from those eyebrows. And using the term “bestie.”

I hadn’t seen first hand how drugs could destroy someone, or, how watching it happen could destroy me. I had never boarded a plane, much less flown to Europe to live. I was fearful of almost everything, yet slightly more optimistic than I am today.

I loved my parents just as much as I do now. That kind of love does not diminish with time.

I had yet to discover what it was I would do with my life. And even three years from then, when I was supposed to have it all figured out, I still wouldn’t. I didn’t understand the mental toll of working 40 hours a week at a job that made me want to breathe in the exhaust from my sweet action Saturn and how it would change my life when I lost it unexpectedly. I never thought in a million years that I would actually be paid for writing down the words that had been up to that point a nuisance, merely adding to my Insomnia. And I had never heard of Radiohead. Or boxed wine.

Six months prior, everyone in my graduating class had picked me as the first to get marriedThey should have known better than to make bets on me.

I had never lived anywhere but my parents house and was screaming for independence. Little did I know, as soon as I got a taste it would intoxicate me, so much so that it would cause me to run away from anything that threatened it.

Ten years. Wow. Maybe I’d go back.

Maybe I wouldn’t.

I don’t suppose it matters though, now does it?

 So tell me, where were you ten years ago?

I have returned to blogging over at Celery and the City where I write about clean eating, healthy living and post allergy and gluten free recipes!

51 thoughts on “September 2001: A Glimpse Into My Life

  1. This is interesting, as I’ve been going back and forth about whether or not I even want to post anything until Monday. First, I have nothing new to say, so that’s a big reason, but also because I feel like anything I do post will be trivial and irrelevant in light of Sunday. Maybe I’ll copy you and do something similar, but then again, I might just stay silent.

    Like you, I was in college and doing many of the normal college things. I lived at home, left for school that morning and heard of the first attack while walking to class–the scattered bits and pieces of info that nobody knew how to piece together quite yet. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

    We all have a story to tell, and thank god, we’re still here to tell it. Maybe I will, thanks to this post. Even if it’s boring, it’s an honor to have the right to do it.

  2. I’m feeling just like Abby on this one. I’ve been thinking about putting something up on Sunday or Monday but may just let it go. I’m not sure if I’m up to putting words to it yet.
    We had just moved to Minnesota a few months earlier and I was having new granite put into our kitchen. I remember talking on the phone with people all day and trying to make sense out of things. All I wanted was for my husband to come home.

    • mmmmm…. yea, i was only worried about my parents back then. But, oh, my heart goes out to all those poor people who lost their spouses, parents, friends. can’t imagine the anger they feel towards that situation.

  3. All I remember is when not working for at least a week, I was sitting in front of the television set watching everything happening.

    Today my wife wonders why I don’t have the stomach to watch any of the 9/11 remembrance shows.

  4. As always, bravo. Well done. Golf claps. BEAUTIFUL!!!

    I was a high school junior, sitting in this stupid English class. Before I went there I was in the library, and happened to look at a TV, and I must have caught a glimpse of the explosion as it happened because I distinctly (will never forget thinking this) remember thinking: “why are they showing an action movie in the LIBRARY?”

    Imagine my heart jumping experience when I got into that dumb English class and realized…

    Also, I had a HORRIBLE Calc teacher who tried to pretend nothing had happened and forced us to all learn more stupid Calc an hour after the twin towers had fallen. I can’t stand her to this day.

  5. I was at work inspecting microfilm when someone turned on the radio to say that there was a plane crash in New York. After listening to it for a few minutes some of us wandered to the break room and gathered around a t.v. that showed video from the first crash.

    I’m much like Bearman in that I won’t watch anything about 9/11.

    For this weekend, I’ll probably put my picture blog on a mini-hiatus and simply post a pic of the American flag flying majestically in the sky.

  6. So this, my… sista from anotha mista (like that?), is where were are so insanely opposite that it’s a little comforting (knowing we’re not exactly the same person) and unnerving (I kind of liked being the same person) at the same time. I don’t know if that made sense. I’ve had a bit o’ wine.

    But yeah… when I quit college halfway through my sophomore year (family stuff was going on), everyone was shocked — shocked! when I ended up moving to Georgia, of all places, to be with a guy. And then I had the nerve to marry him. Getting married before I was 30 (when I was 29 to be exact) was the very last thing anyone who really knew me in my very early 20’s would have expected — including myself.

    Fortunately, we’re not in Georgia anymore, but I have to say — I think you’re lucky your life didn’t “settle down” the way you expected. The benefits — especially for a writer — are obvious. I love my husband, but sometimes I wish I’d met him 10 years later. 😉

    Oh, and to answer your question (because this comment isn’t quite long enough), I was in one of my college classes (Ethnic Literature, to be exact — yes, I got up at 7:00 to get to an 8 a.m. literature class) when the towers got hit, so I had no clue until I went to the dining hall for breakfast and saw the second tower fall. I thought it was a movie. Little did I know how much my life would eventually be affected — so far down the road — by marrying someone in the military. It’s kind of crazy to think about.

  7. Okay, first I had to laugh at this….

    “obsession with the bathrooms…still am.”

    OMG…no wonderful I feel kin to you….I’m a bathroom freak! In fact, I wouldn’t care if I lived in an apartment with NO rooms other than the bathroom. I mean come on….bathrooms are the BEST room in a house!

    And I also have a secret to tell you, but you have to swear that you’ll never tell another living soul.

    Often times, when I visit someone else’s home or apartment, I like go through their medicine cabinet and under the sink cabinet, to find out what kind of products they use!

    You shared much wisdom in this post, girl.

    “I’ve never been so entirely wrong about anything in my life, aside from those eyebrows. And using the term “bestie.”

    “I had yet to discover what it was I would do with my life. And even three years from then, when I was supposed to have it all figured out, I still wouldn’t.”

    You’re right about both those things, because even at 55 years old, I STILL haven’t figured it all out, and still don’t know what to do with my life.

    But I DID figured out that that’s okay, because life (at least my life) is just meant to be lived, day by day, and then allowing to take me where I need to go, to grow.

    And when I look back on my life, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Where was I ten years ago? I had just turned 45, and moved back east and was starting a whole new adventure.

    I was sitting in a city park, when I heard about the Twin Towers. Numb.

    And for some reason, it really hasn’t been until these past three years, did that tragic event really sink in and affect me. It’s like my emotions all had a delayed reaction. I plan on going to NYC before the holidays and visiting Ground Zero. And I’m kinda scared about how I’ll react.

    Wonderful post, bestie!

    X ya!

    • mmm yea i don’t know if i could visit ground zero… eek.

      you’re right about life though. it’s gotta be day by day. as much as we try to plan and plot out our lives, they never follow any certain path, they just go wherever they take us. and we have to be flexible with that.

  8. I was standing on the corner of Canal and Greene street when I saw a plane fly into the first tower. I had only been in New York for 12 hours. I was newly divorced, madly in love with an artist, bursting with freedom and hope for the future. I would give anything to live that year over again.

  9. Like, uh, the other Abby, I’ve also been waffling about whether or not to post. I think I was too close to it and have many issues, like could I do it justice. But now that the day is almost here, I know I can’t let it go by without due respect. Great look back at ten years!

  10. My son was at home recuperating/rehabbing from a 6-story fall. I was a busy worker bee trying to be a good citizen and example for my kids. I loved listening to Moby, DJ Shadow, and Stone Temple Pilots on the way to work. That day was terrifying. I remember the TV was in my office because my boss had graciously let me watch the US Open tennis matches that week, so everyone gathered in my office to watch the events unfold with hardly a word breathed. Nothing else had any importance.

  11. That’s a really pretty picture 🙂 Trust me – I know about the eyebrows. Mine were like that too in 2001!

    I was in high school, in line by the library getting ready to take school pictures. I had lost weight during the summer, always having been the fat girl, and this was the first time I was excited about school pictures, not dreading them. I remember this guy, the class clown, saying that a plane had run into the World Trade Center. To be honest, I didn’t even know what they were, having never been to NYC and having lived in Germany most of my life. I thought this guy was just messing around, and I was like, “Not funny” to him. But, soon enough, I remember looking up to the small TV and seeing it was true. That began a crazy day.
    Thanks for the prompt to help me remember it… feels like a world away.

  12. I was eleven. And in sixth grade. And lately I’ve taken to torturing myself reading as much memorial stuff as I can find to somehow compensate for the fact that all I remember was that I couldn’t understand why everyone was making such a big deal. I got stung by a bee that day and I wanted to complain about it but when I did my older sister (who was only 13) just kept chastising me by repeating “this is our Pearl Harbor” – which must have been a phrase she heard somewhere that day. In my defense, our school actively down played it. We’re close enough to the city that some people commute to work there and I think they didn’t want to put anyone on the spot if their parents worked in the towers.

    p.s. college you had great skin! And great hair.

  13. Those was the fastest 10 years in my life. Am not sure if life accelerates when we gets older but to me it seems like it was yesterday.

  14. My daughter called. “Mother, did you know a plane crashed into one of the Twin Towers?” and while we talked we watched as they announced a second plane had struck as well. Immediately the contact with all our family members began. None were anywhere near NYC but it somehow seemed important to take inventory. My husband had gone to our place in Kansas to do some work and I could not reach him. My fear was that he had been called back into the Navy and was reporting for duty. Instead he was on his tractor in a remote area and had no clue of the world events. I often wish I had been on that tractor with him. I could not bear to watch any of the 10 year anniversary and the replay of that day over and over again.

  15. Ten years ago yesterday, I didn’t have a TV. I was living in a shithole apartment with a very wrong person… and we had to drive to the couch we spent the rest of the day on. It would take me another two years and a trip to Australia for me to make my break from that Wrong Person.

    You’d think that, of all people, I would’ve been able to walk away from abuse quicker than that. Just goes to show – easier said than done.

    Ten years. That is some shit. Despite some things, I feel about a billion times better about my life, but not an ounce better about the world in general. Not sure how I feel about that.

    • haha. oh what’s with you and me and dating the wrong people. and i couldn’t agree more than I feel much less safe and at ease with the world now than I did back then. And not just because of security reasons – for just about every reason.

  16. It can be interesting to look back and see what has changed over the past 10 years.

    When this tragic event happened, I was also in university and barely awake when my friend called and told me about it. It took a bit to register in my stressed and tired brain the magnitude of the horror.

    Recently, I saw some photos that were taken during this event and the one that struck me the most was the image of the guy who was forced to jump off one of the top floors of the building:

    So many people were forced to do that. So tragic!

  17. Great post, as usual!
    I was working at what was simultaneously the best and worst job I’ve ever had. Was a year into dating the best man ever, who is now my husband.
    And now here I am 4 moves and 2 kids later and that footage of 9-11 still makes me lose it, every single time.

  18. Loved this fantastic look into the world that was yours. Ten years can sure bring a lot of changes. . . I was still a year away from getting married, ‘besties’ with the man who would become my husband, but living with his other best friend, who I had been dating for years and years. No kids, working full-time. Totally different universe from where I am now.

  19. I was working at a ceramic pottery shop painting 20 Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish Christmas Ornaments and listening to the John Boy & Billy Show on the radio. John Boy portrays a dumb, hick, redneck whose claim to fame is his incredible idiocy and hilarious jokes.

    He stopped in the middle of his joke set-up to inform us listeners that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers. He kept on with his monologue, then shouted out that ANOTHER tower was hit. That’s when we knew something was poppin’ off.

    After that occurred, nothing was funny, so for a comedy radio program, they had nothing to say at all and had to rely on watching TV themselves and telling us on the radio what was happening.

    My boss went next door to the beauty salon to watch television coverage and she kept running back to tell us something else unbelievable had just happened. We were at our wits end and no one felt like working, but she wouldn’t let us go. Finally, she let us come over as a group to watch ten minutes of TV coverage before sending us back to the peanut gallery.

    It was definitely a day I’ll never forget. It took a long time before I could even contemplate joking around about anything. 🙁

  20. I love your writing and it doesn’t surprise me at all that you get paid for your words!

    Ten years ago I was dating someone who 1) had yet to come out of the closet and 2) definitely didn’t treat me with much respect. I was pretty sure we’d have kids togther by this time. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

  21. That day, I was in the bookstore getting my bio lab book, which was a huge nuissance of a story, which was completely eclipsed by what actually happened that day. I saw the news about a building and a plane, but was in such a rush…. it wasn’t until hours later did I find out what was going on (bio lab was in a prison of a building. we were all clueless).

    In general, though? I was in my first year of university, blissfully free of my mother’s apartment. Missing my cats like woah. I had plans to finish my Bachelor’s, and head to Vet school directly after. Spot on with that one. I thought I’d live in residence for the whole course of it, seemed so simple… that lasted 2 years 😛 I was living with my best friend, but by the end of the year we’d hardly be speaking. I was becoming friends with people who wouldn’t bother with me after the year was done. I attended an SLG and met a girl who would help shape the rest of my university career in a very positive way.
    I thought I’d end up back in Ottawa in 8 years… way wrong on that one.
    I had never really fallen in love, or had my heart broken..
    And I hadn’t met tequila yet..
    I hated my mother, but she was my mother so I loved her and tried to respect her and didn’t know yet how easy it would be to walk away from her.
    I believed I would never have kids (still do) or a dog (oops), just cats (had 2 then. up to 4 now.)
    I was very into drawing, didn’t take many pictures, and hadn’t yet learned to knit.
    I was too intimidated to continue with my love of singing in choirs. (took 9 years to fix that…)

    It’s weird to think of the landscape of my life 10 years ago compared to today. . . I mean, the people who I would lay my life down for today, I didn’t even know back then. The people back on the mainland that I keep in touch with… didn’t know them 10 years ago. Family has been the only constant. And Fluff. Blessed old soul, he’s been here 20 years now 😉

    …but, I only recently started using the term “bestie”… so, I should nip that in the bud?? :S

  22. 10 years ago?…..ouch! I like to stay in the here and now. Anything further back than a week gives me a head ache.

    September 11, I was at home watching the morning news and working on one of my many ongoing (at that time) paintings. I watched in horror and disbelief as it unfolded. Very frightening…..extremely sad.

  23. I went back and forth about whether I was going to post something for 9/11 but I’m glad I did. September 11 2001 was my 21st birthday and I was in my second year of college. Back then, I was fearless – I wouldn’t think, I would just DO. Sometimes I wish I could get that spontaneity and naive confidence back. I put 100% of my heart into every relationship, never worrying about getting hurt. I did a lot of emotional cliff diving. As much as it would be nice sometimes to have less responsibilities & the skin I had at 21, I wouldn’t want to live through that period of my life again – mostly because I don’t think I could deal with my eyebrows circa 2001. They were bad.

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