Wednesday, September 11, 2013

*sigh* 9/11

This day is never easy for most Americans.  It is a day that is somber, quiet, and reflective as it totally should be.  I'm sitting writing this while my kids sit and watch Yo Gabba Gabba.  It's a very cloudy gray day outside, and I think the weather reflects the mood most people are in today.  When I look at my kids I often think about what kind of tragedies they will witness.  As much as we would all like to think something as horrible as 9/11 wouldn't happen again, it is inevitable that SOMEDAY something will happen because Al Qaeda is a bunch of crazy bastards.

I have always had a lot of guilt when it comes to 9/11.  I was almost 16 years old and my parents decided to take me on a Disney Cruise. I was less than thrilled.  The first few days of the cruise were ok, although I would have much rather been with my friends instead of Mickey Mouse coming up to me everyday and giving me a big hug (For the record I would be so excited for that to happen now, but I was 16 remember?).  On the morning of 9/11 we docked at Castaway Cay, Disneys private island.  I was in an especially bad mood and refused to enjoy the beautiful water and white beaches.  All of a sudden a downpour came forcing everyone on the beach to huddle together under straw-like huts.  Whether you like the people you were next to or not you were huddled with them.

After the storm passed I was really pissed off, I had had it with this trip, I wanted to go home and didn't want to be on this stupid trip anymore.  I stomped off leaving my family on the beach and headed back to the ship.  While walking back to the room I started hearing screaming, crying, "oh-nos" "oh my gods" and so on.  When I got into the room I turned on the tv and saw a tower on fire.  It was a close-up shot of the tower and underneath it the caption read "world trade center on fire"....I had no idea what the world trade center was, OR that it was in NY.  Sure I had seen the towers a million times in the opening credits of "Friends" but I failed to put two and two together and turned the TV off and took a nap.

My parents and sister came back to the ship not long after I started to nap and my mom said "Whats going on in NY?"  I said "NY? I don't know about NY but there is some tower on fire" She instantly turned on the TV and by this time the second tower was fully engulfed as well.  The first words out of her mouth when she saw both of the towers on fire was "He finally did it" I said "Who? Whats going on?" She said "Bin Laden, he finally did it, he tried years ago to bring those down" I don't really remember the rest of it, I don't remember watching the towers fall, the people running for their lives, the aftermath or anything.  I don't know if my mom shut off the TV on purpose or if we did watch and I just wasn't very invested in it.  The next thing I remember is being told that the cruise was going to be cut short, we were going back to FL (apparently they were afraid we could be some kind of target sitting in the middle of the ocean).

We were due to fly home the 12th, I was excited to go home but not so excited to fly right after all of this.  Of course we were told that ALL flights were grounded and we wouldn't be going anywhere.  I begged my parents for us to rent a car and drive home.  I did NOT want to fly home.  They wouldn't budge.  It took DAYS for us to finally get a flight home, and when we did I witnessed first hand how on edge we were in airports.  We got through security, and sat at our gate.  I looked across a few rows and spotted a man wearing a turban with a large beard.  I am not ashamed to say that at the time I was scared shitless.  If you were about to get on a plane that close after 9/11 and saw a man with a turban on you would feel the same way, call me a racist if you want, but if you're saying you wouldn't feel the same way you're lying.  Also, I was NOT the only one staring at him.  EVERYONE was looking at him, whispering, and looked visibly shaken.  After about 20 minutes of us sitting there all worried about the guy in the turban, 2 guys in suits came up grabbed him by the arms and took him away.  Honestly do I think he was a terrorist now that I look back on it? No, I think we were just all on edge and while it wasn't right to judge that man, it was kind of understandable. 

I have flown a total of 2 times (round trip) since that day and my mother, against my wishes and begging, is now a flight attendant.  I haven't been able to get past the fear of flying and am not really sure if I ever will.

Since my behavior regarding 9/11 when it was happening was horrendous, I dedicate my entire day every 9/11 to watch specials, educate my children, and pay my respects the way I SHOULD have 12 years ago.  I feel guilty that the country was in complete chaos, thousands of people died, people were literally running for their lives and there I was sitting pouting that I wanted to go home because I was 16 and I was the center of the universe.  I hope my children never have to witness anything of that magnitude in their lifetime, but the threat is always there.  I hope that by investing myself all day every 9/11 I am paying respects to those who lost their lives and loved ones.  I truly do feel guilty but I hope I have redeemed myself somewhat.  One of the things on my bucket list is to see the 9/11 memorial in NY, and if I ever have to opportunity to go I may even fly there.


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