Remembering 9/11

Last week Sunday marked the ten year anniversary of September 11th, 2001. Our world has changed so much since then. We’ve come a long way though I’m not convinced all the changes are good ones. It’s odd to think about life ten years ago. While I’m aware that ten years ago I was 20 years old, I got my first laptop, my chihuahua, I was working full time and going to college part time so much of life back then is fuzzy (as life ten years prior usually is). September 11th is still clear.

I woke up that beautiful September morning and took Dane, my new chihuahua puppy outside to “go potty.” My mom was out in our yard on the phone. I could tell by the look on her face that something was terribly wrong. Having two grandparents in their eighties my panic centered on them. I remember asking her what was wrong expecting to hear someone was being rushed to the hospital or perhaps worse… Her answer was something I was definitely not prepared for. “Terrorists attacks.” I couldn’t believe what she was saying. “They hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.” My first thoughts were “it can’t be. This sounds like a movie, this isn’t real life,” but it was real life. After hearing the news from my Uncle John, we went inside and turned on the television. It was on every channel. The images of the Towers burning. The scenes of the planes crashing into the buildings. The horror.

I remember wondering if I should even go into work that day but I knew that despite what was happening I would be expected to be at work. My youngest sisters’ school was put on lock-down. They were kept blissfully unaware until they got home from school that day.

At work there was this eerie calm. Everyone was so nice to each other as we went through the motions in a state of disbelief. We had the TVs on in the dining room, we’d take turns monitoring the news. Our customers kept us informed as well. I remember we’d ask questions of the customers coming through the drive thru and they would ask us too. There were a lot of “God bless you’s” and talk about prayer. People were frightened, more compassionate, more patient.

The city of Detroit basically shut down. They stopped the bus runs earlier than usual. They closed the Ren-Cen, the big three, the bridge to Canada. Our franchise owner called the stores and told us to put “Pray for America” or something to that effect on our marquees out front of the restaurants. I did it myself, watching the cars going past on the busy road, looking at the beautiful day and wondering if our world would ever be the same. I felt like all our hopes and dreams were probably shattered, I knew we’d be going to war. It was now a different world.

I went home that night and my family all gathered around watching the TV, talking about the different things we heard, what we thought would happen, our hopes, our fears, our sorrow. Finally we turned it off because we couldn’t take it any more. We didn’t want to see the plane hit the building again, or the people running covered in debris.

I prayed so hard that night, prayed that survivors would be found, prayed for the people who didn’t know if their loved ones were dead or alive, prayed for the parents who had lost their children and for the children who lost their parents. I prayed for our country and for my family. I prayed for safety and peace. I prayed that our President and government would not make some knee jerk reaction and intensify the violence. I even prayed for our enemies that the Holy Spirit may work in their hearts and that they could have peace as well. I prayed. I think I even begged and pleaded with the Lord asking to please let us all get past this with no more lives being lost. I prayed for peace.

Ten years later we still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Osama Bin Laden is now dead which is a small victory in all of this I suppose. But lives are still being lost. The real tragedy is that we have returned to “normal” life, being cruel and lacking in compassion (myself included). I think the real question, ten years later, are we really honoring those who have died by the way we live?

What to write what to write

Here I am on a gorgeous day in the middle of September. The sun is shining there’s a gentle breeze and life is beautiful. Far from perfect but it is beautiful. So here I sit thinking I should write. I don’t really have an agenda for what I am going to say but there have been so many thoughts bouncing around in my head lately I may as well let them out and see where they take me…

I think that now, at the age of 30, I am finally ready to go back to college. I started at community college as soon as I graduated high school. I was going part time for a degree in business administration, the goal being human resource management. At the time I was working in fast food and the franchise I was with was promising me “big thing.” I thought that by the time I got my degree they may have room for me at the “office,” and I could revamp the company, make it more compassionate, etc.

The problem was business classes bored me to death. They just seemed so common sense that I wanted to beat my head against a wall sitting there listening to the professors. Granted I certainly learned some new ideas but mainly I was bored. Paying for boredom several hours a week, sitting in a classroom after doing a 10 hour day at work just didn’t make much sense to me. Besides I think a big part of me was going to college at that time because it seemed like the thing to do. You graduate, you go to college. No question. I’m sure that had I chose not to go my parents actually would have accepted it. They would have questioned me, asked what my goals were for my life and how was I going to reach them but they would have accepted my choice as well as my judgement. (my parents are pretty awesome that way).

Eventually by the age of 21 or 22 I quit going to school. The last semester I did attend I had a creative writing class which was definitely one of my favorite classes. I did very well at college but it was an obligation rather than anything else. Besides I was going for a degree because it sounded like a good thing to do, would lead to a good job, and one that I was not really passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, improving the work place (or any human condition) is certainly a passion of my mine but it wasn’t really the right fit. So I quit.

Ever since I have had continued dreams about school. Typically I am back in high school but I am my current age. I have all the life experience I’ve earned so far and somehow being in a classroom with the same people I attended high school with left me feeling less than but also more than.

I felt less than because I thought these people were doing more with their lives, hitting all the checklists that make one successful. College education? Check. Fall in love? Check. Live with someone or get married? Check. Have a kid? Check. Travel the world? Check. Start your own business? Check. Work your way up the corporate ladder & get a fancy title? Check.

Me? I’ve done hardly any of those things. I sometimes feel like I am living within myself rather than fully living. Which makes me ask, what the hell have I been doing? Then I take stock of my life and experiences I realize I’m doing just fine. You can’t compare your life to that of another. We all have our own struggles. And everyone tries their best to make their life sound glamourous and exciting (especially on facebook). That’s not a real barometer for success.

So at that point in the dream something would happen involving an authority figure being a dick, leaving me feeling unprepared and putting me down somehow. At that moment I would find my inner strength and say, “No way, this is not happening. You can’t treat me like that, I’m not going to stand for it,” although usually in my dreams it involves more expletives. Then I walk out with my head held high with a sense of, “I’ve already accomplished what they wanted to teach me.”

Despite the sense of awareness and self-knowledge I have in these dreams (every. single. time.) I know that deep down, somewhere inside of me, I want more. I want more for myself. I’ve done a lot but I have a long way to go. I want to learn more, know more, do more, be more.

I am finally ready.