2021 11 September :: 12.26 pm
:: Mood: blah
:: Music: Dido - Thank You
Twenty years ago I was eleven years old living in Athens, Georgia. I attended a middle school that looked like the ones on TV, indoors, hallways lined with lockers. The inside of my locker had a Johnny Bravo sticker from a cereal box, but I wasn't a Johnny Bravo fan. I just wanted to decorate my door. And when I did have cereal again, I would fish the new box for another sticker, hoping it was Courage the Cowardly Dog instead.
I started middle school three times: fifth grade in Mississippi, sixth grade in Georgia, then seventh grade in San Diego. It's an easy personal detail I toss in for social kindling whenever someone decides to go around the table and share 'fun facts' as an icebreaker. But my sixth grade year was split up; I left sometime during the holidays. Literally went from a block period schedule with two electives—typing, violin—to kiddie pool stuff like recess and nutrition break. Yeah, I was probably stuck up about it. Didn't want to play tetherball 'cause my old school seemed so Boy Meets World-ish by comparison.
As with any coming-of-age interlude, that half year in Georgia felt like an entire grade or two for all the side characters and episodic vignettes it contained. Memories work like that. They stretch time in some places. One thing I usually forget to mention, though, is that I was a painfully average child living in Athens, Georgia on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
A shadow seized us as we the children, and our adults, and the whole country, spent a week or more watching smoke fill our TV screens. My homeroom teacher sat on the edge of a counter, facing the class, and asked us if we understood what was happening. He had a black microphone clipped to his shirt. A wire trailed from the microphone to a bulky recorder on the counter next to him.
"A plane crashed."
"Two planes crashed."
"America was attacked on its own grounds," said our teacher.
Planes crashed. Buildings fell. It happened in New York City. Nine-one-one was the day, and the number for help. We were attacked. We were hated. We were scared.
We understood that much.
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