Random non-cycling-related memory …

Now that I’ve had a chance to look back on my experience on September 11th, 2001, it’s hard to think of any more indelible moment in our history. I was working as a construction worker when it happened. I recall drilling holes in a concrete wall directly under a mammoth steel beam back then. It seemed so many things about my life at the time were superlatives. It was about 9:30 MDT–11:30 NY time. My boss walked up and interrupted my drilling. He had me pull my ear plugs out, and then he told me about how some terrorists had flown planes into the twin towers. Initially, I didn’t register which ‘twin towers’ he’d talked about. But when I finally put the equation together, all I could think about was what noise the steel in those buildings must’ve made as they collapsed. I admit, I spent the rest of the day glued to the television, unable to believe what I’d seen.

In my Spanish 101 class, my teacher talked about how one of his teachers had been a grade school student during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Her teacher had started the class by mentioning the fact and then moving on to the subject at hand–math or grammar or something–because it was obviously more important to their futures (obviously–please note sarcasm). My Spanish teacher then said, "I happen to know that what happened today is more important than your understanding basic Spanish. So instead of studying, we’re going to talk about what happened." Heck, it still blows my mind.

I remember it took me a long time before I really felt like I had a handle on the facts of what happened. I’m glad the national news was toned down. I heard the news in New York City showed the body parts found blocks away from the scene. For me, it seemed like I wasn’t able to process the event until I’d seen it on TV.

I haven’t worked under steel girders for a long time now. My sister works in a building next to ‘ground zero,’ and, on a daily basis, the subject never, or rarely, comes up. But when it does come up, it seems like my mind is still processing the information in new contexts and through new paradigms. Now, I find myself looking into my daughters eyes and wondering whether the next generation will understand how we felt that day, or whether our experience will seem as foreign or distant to them like BBC seems to American viewers.

I don’t want anything to ever take the heaven I have now away from me, but I also don’t ever want to forget the hell that preceded it.

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