How do I feel and remember 9/11? It all happened so fast – it’s like a blur or a bad dream put on repeat that I could not seem to wake up from – or was it more like a crazy action adventure spy movie gone horribly wrong – imprinting steel, blood, and soot on my memories? Honestly, there is a certain amount of numbness that overcomes me when witnessing real life tragedy, because at times it is too hard for my brain to process man’s inhumanity towards man. It’s both horrifying and terrifying at the same time. Horrifying that evil acts were deliberately planned and undertaken to harm others; terrifying because it could happen to me. There is an old Horace quote that explains it: “Mutato nomine de te fabula narrator,” translated from Latin means – change the name and the story is about you.
Back in 2001, I was living in Athens, Georgia, and finishing up my English degree at the University of Georgia while living in a one bedroom apartment with 70’s avocado green appliances. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I awoke, turned on the tv to the news, and made coffee – nothing but a morning routine here. And then I got the phone call. The sleep that had blurred my eyes was gone, replaced with fear and adrenaline. My eyes focused and I turned up the volume on the news. I no longer felt safe. Reality has an awful way of shaking you to the core. I watched the tv for as long as I could, but I could do nothing to save or help the victims nor could I reach through my tv and punch the perpetrators of this heinous crime. I had to turn it off. Voyeurism to tragedy felt heartless. I felt helpless. I cried and prayed for the victims and their families. I hugged my cat. I told my loved ones that they were indeed loved. Life moved on. I always try to remember the reality of not being personally invincible and that I am lucky to be able to have the luxury to take our country’s security and safety for granted.
The Backstage Beat reflects and remembers the tragedy that happened 10 years ago and we pray for the families that lost loved ones that day.
Read these articles by some of our writers on how they saw that day.
God Bless America!!
The Day I Learned To Knit.
I left my job 2 days ago. I was the lead in a successful Off-Broadway show, but it was time for me to move on. I was burnt out and my understudy was chomping at the bit to fill my shoes. I agreed to let her start a week earlier than originally planned.
It’s Tuesday, September 11 and I have an audition lined up. I did the hair, the make-up and found the outfit that best represented me for that particular job. My loft in Bushwick, Brooklyn has an amazing view of Manhattan. The entire wall is industrial window from waist height to ceiling. I feel lucky to have it, since I only pay a dollar a square foot per month. I would argue that it has the best sunrises and sunsets in the city.
We All Changed
September 11, 2001. A day that we as Americans will always remember. A day we all changed.
Looking back at it, I am always overwhelmed with emotion. Every year since this took place, I find it hard to watch the news, hard to relive those moments.
That was the day I realized how alone we all are.
Sound asleep. Dreaming…. maybe even drooling… then my brother’s voice woke me up. “Ange, a plane just hit one of the twin towers in New York!” I turned over half asleep and asked him what he was doing awake. I thought he was joking, so I fell right back to sleep. What seemed like only a minute later, my brother woke me up again, telling me another plane had hit the other tower. I decided I should get up and go look at the television. If in fact he was kidding, I would have reason to kick his butt.
Walking out of my room, I could hear the news. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and knew it was not a joke. When I got to the living room, I heard them talking about it being a terrorist attack and how we were not safe. Until that point in my life, I never feared for anything like that. I was terrified.
We were on military soil. I knew we were in great risk of being targeted as I lived in military housing on Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. For those of you who do not know, Offutt AFB is the home of StratCom (Strategic Air Command). That is the underground bunker where the president goes to in case of an emergency. Yep, it was all over the news too, “President Bush is aboard Air Force One, heading to Offutt AFB”…. I was beyond fearful.
Stepping out of my house, I lit up a cigarette (yes, that was when I smoked) and stood on the steps on my back patio with my brother next to me. We said nothing. There was nothing we could say. Soon we heard the fighter jets. We looked up in the sky and watched as Air Force One, accompanied by jets fly right over our house and land at Offutt. I kept thinking that surely these terrorist were still out there. Waiting to find the next place. Waiting to take another plane and crash it into Offutt where our President was. Where I was.
Walking back inside the house, I felt no peace. I did not feel safe or secure. I felt anxious and alone. I watched the news and cried my eyes out as countless victims threw themselves out of the burning buildings. I cried as I read the names and ages of the victims on the planes. I was overwhelmed with sadness and still to this day can not think about it without tearing up.
Everything changed that day. Getting around Offutt was much harder. Security was at high alert. There was fear everywhere. I had just turned 23 and until that day, I thought I was so old and wise. I realized on that day, how insignificant I was.
I remember traveling a few weeks after 9/11 to Gatlinburg, TN to spend time with my family in their timeshare. There were signs everywhere saying “Thanks for Traveling” “God Bless America” and the like. Also, everywhere you looked you would see a beautiful American Flag flying. It was a time that stood still. I felt lucky to have my family safe and sound and only a phone call away. I felt pain for those who no longer had that.
A lot has changed in ten years. Looking back at this time ten years ago is somewhat hard to do. We all have changed. We all have loved, lost, grew, failed, laughed, cried and changed… a lot I am sure. I will look back at 9/11 this weekend and hold my children tight who were not alive when this took place. I will explain it to them the best I can, as I do every year, through the tears.
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