My mother and I had hit the red light by Walmart countless times. Hundreds.This grey morning was no different from any other. No ominous chill in the air, no monumental feeling, nothing.
I was being driven to school like always.
In the time it took for the traffic light to cycle from red to green my sheltered world shattered.
When the announcer on the radio station my mother prefers said that the Twin Towers had been attacked, I thought that the announcer’s joke was in awfully poor taste.
Then she said it again. And again.
This was no joke.
The light turned green and in a moment of silence my mother slowly accelerated, turning up the volume on the radio.
The last five minutes of my commute are a blur–I am sure there were prayers and exclamations, and thoughts. Sudden fear for my sister who was attending school in New York at the time. I can’t remember this at all.
What I do remember is walking through the hallway to my locker in a trance.
The hallway was the same as always. Buzzing, youthful, hormone-driven.
Nothing had changed.
Everything had changed.
What snapped me out of my haze was a joking exchange between two immature seventh grade boys about the attacks, terrorism, and possible war.
“That’s not funny,” I whispered.
My head snapped up, my eyes widened, and I was alive.
“That’s not funny.”
I continued to class, feeling a few tears well.
I only had a vague idea of what exactly the Twin Towers were.
I did not know what the 9/11 attacks (all of them) would mean for the entire world.
I did not believe that the USA would be in constant war for the next ten years.
I somehow did know that some of me was forever changed, simultaneously enlightened and saddened.
The fairy tale impervious America I had been indoctrinated about—untouchable–didn’t exist. It never had.
That’s a hard lesson to learn.
So much harder for some than for others.
So no, I will never forget.
And yes, you should care.