Ten years ago, I was a senior in high school sitting in first period consumer ed with a teacher who’s name I can’t remember — she was seven months pregnant, with shoulder-length brown hair and a soft pink sweater. She was sitting in the back of the classroom while another student gave a presentation when the door opened and a boy poked his head in. The boy with the poster board stopped, and we all turned toward the interruption.
His news was of the first crash, in Washington, D.C.
It’s amazing that, of all my days in high school, or even that half year, this is one day I can remember with almost perfect clarity — sitting in the cafeteria to watch CNN, the way the classroom felt cooler because my history teacher had turned off the lights and left the TV on, our English teacher refusing to postpone a quiz because she didn’t want this to be a huge mark in our lives. At the time, we couldn’t understand her, but now, I can see how that little slice of normal helped ground all of us.
We all watched CNN almost obsessively for weeks; I can remember it being on in the background at friend’s house.
Last year, I was at Jun’s apartment. I’ve never been one to watch those programs about what happened, reflection upon reflection on an event burned permanently on my retinas, but Jun had been in Japan when it happened. It was almost as though it isn’t as real for her as it was for me, hearing my Japanese teacher talk about her son escaping by sliding down a stairwell, wall collapsed down making it easier. She watches the programs because that is as close as she’ll ever get.
And even though I was miles and miles and lightyears away, tucked into my high school in Chicago, I felt like I, too, like the rest of us, was there, if only for one united moment.