I was sitting in my fourth-grade class on Sept. 11, 2001, across from Dana, who liked to burrow her head in her shirt and “discreetly” pick her nose. The principal’s voice, emanating from the loudspeaker, suddenly interrupted my teacher. I heard something about airplanes and the World Trade Center. I wondered what the World Trade Center was. My teacher tried to explain what had happened, but I don’t think she even fully understood.
The images on the evening news of planes hitting skyscrapers finally helped me begin to understand the tragedy. I saw the planes hit again and again. I saw the smoke billow, and I saw buildings collapse. It was mesmerizing, confusing and impossible to fathom the extent of the destruction.
I was playing at Jennie’s house across the alley on Nov. 9, 1996. My dad came to the door. He was holding a plastic grocery bag that contained a carton of orange juice. He told me I had a new baby sister. I thought, “Another one? Seriously?”
Just kidding. I was definitely excited. My 2-year-old sister, Marina, was even more excited because she wasn’t the youngest anymore. I walked home with my sister and my dad, walked into my parents’ room, and saw my mom in the rocking chair holding Veronika. Mom gave Marina and me chocolate bars and congratulated us on being big sisters. I should’ve gotten chocolate for my mom and congratulated her on popping out a third baby. That’s hard work.
It amazes me that I remember these moments so clearly. Most of my childhood memories have been re-created from flipping through old photo albums, but these two memories are real and vivid.
It’s interesting that people can remember those defining moments in world history and in their own personal history. Some people remember where they were when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon, or what they were doing when JFK was shot. Shock and other strong emotions must permanently imbed those moments in memories.
Here’s a thought I had while writing this post: How cool would it be to base some sort of multimedia project on these kinds of memories? Perhaps it could be an audio piece in which people describe their recollections of hearing about monumental events.