Almost ten years prior to 9/11, I stood on top of one of the Twin Towers to take pictures with the high school group I was traveling with. I can still remember how frighteningly tall they were and how small I felt.
Fast forward another ten years. I was at my first teaching job in St. Anthony, Idaho and had arrived at work knowing that something bad was happening in New York City and elsewhere. My newspaper students funneled in, doing nothing more than watching the television that we left on, asking me endless questions that I couldn't answer. The TV stayed on all day, as my World History class came in next, asking me questions about Islam, Muslims, and terrorists that once again--I couldn't answer.
In the midst of all this, I felt desperation to find my best friend, who lived just south of the Twin Towers and was attending NYU at the time. I kept calling all morning, but couldn't reach her. I finally called her mother, who said that Monica had reached a pay phone and called to say she was all right, but had been evacuated out of the area. It took her a week of living from the backpack she carried out of her apartment that morning, with what little cash she had on her, and the clothes on her back until she could return home to her apartment.
In Washington, D.C. the plane that crashed into the Pentagon killed our family friend's son. It was all so maddening.
Two weeks later, I flew out to New York City to visit my best friend, having already had my tickets before 9/11 occurred. Flying into the city late at night, the plane banked the area of lower Manhattan and ground zero, and I'll never forget the hush that fell over the plane as we looked onto that area, lit by football stadium-size lights. The rubble was unending.
Each day during my visit, we had to walk past Ground Zero. My friend asked if I wanted to take a picture, but I couldn't. The picture is still in my mind. They all are.
We're ten years beyond that time, but today I needed to take a moment to remember.
I didn't have any plans to address 9/11 today, until I saw Paul Simon's performance of "The Sound of Silence". The words and music of that song broke open my own silence and tapped into those feelings and thoughts from a decade ago. If you haven't had a chance to see his performance, I'm including it below.