I've known for a while now that I would have to write this post, but I have been prolonging it as much as possible. Why? Apart from the obvious subject, it has stemmed from a recent conversation that made me feel like a completely selfish and ignorant twat.
I will be flying this Sunday, September 11th, 2011.
I was sharing this fact with a friend of mine, expressing my reservations and anxieties about how I will be travelling on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I then continued to explain how I was at College when "it" happened and how they evacuated the school because it was so close to the Toronto Airport. Going home, stuck in 12 lanes of stopped traffic and realizing I was utterly helpless in that situation if anything were to happen; my heart was racing and I was crying.
Was this the beginning of World War III?
Will we all die today?
Is this the beginning of the end?
IS THIS IT?
My friend was quiet while I was going off on a tangent. Then, he replied:
I was there.
I sucked that crap into my lungs.
I pulled injured people out from under metal buildings.
I pulled on someone's arm to help them out of rubble only to realize that it was just an arm without a body.
I gave water to fire fighters.
I was supposed to be in Tower 1 but I was late and stuck in traffic.
I went to 16 funerals.
I didn't know. If I did, I would never have opened my damn mouth. All of a sudden, I felt fucking ridiculous and all I had thought and my entire perception of that day, on that day, and for every day since, was nothing but selfish panic.
I'm not special.
Everyone panicked. From the wise words of Agent Kay, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals."
And yet, we were 500 miles away, in another country. Safe.
There was a news segment on television last night that featured a young woman. She is going to make the trip to Ground Zero this weekend because of how it "profoundly affected her life". She was 16 when it happened... in a Canadian high school. She had no relation to anyone that lost their life that day, but still... profound nevertheless. The segment had a talk-track on top of scenes of her looking sad, pondering off into the distance. The footage was enhanced with a cheesy glow for heightened dramatics. I think a lot of people confuse the phrase 'profoundly affected' with the word 'fascination', including this woman, and that television station.
Maybe I'm just being a bitch, but I found it hard to stomach her... ahem... story. Was I meant to feel sympathy for this woman? And if so, why? I wasn't sure. I would like to see her tell her "story" to my friend and see how news-worthy he thinks it is. If I were him, I'd want to slap her. Yesterday must have been a slow news day, seriously.
I know that people often tend to gravitate to huge tragedies and events and when possible, become a part of them, even if it's via 3-times removed someone-knowing-someone who's relative's neighbor that died.
Where were you when JFK died?
But enough is enough.
After having written these words, I don't think I will ever attempt to gain shared sympathy from anyone about how I felt on 9/11. How I felt is now (and has always been) irrelevant, apart from expressing that I was very, very lucky that I wasn't there. I pray that no one I know and/or love will ever have to experience something like that in their lifetime.
So, I will be flying to the United States on September 11, 2011. And coincidentally, two other immediate family members of mine will be flying in from Europe on the same day. Am I nervous? A little bit. (OK, maybe a lot.) But I don't think there will be a single person, flying or not, that won't be thinking about all the lives that were lost and families that were torn apart forever on that day. Whether directly or indirectly, it affected the entire world.
I'm not special.