I've been thinking about whether I wanted to post anything related to 9/11 today - especially as we'll all be so saturated with images and reports and memorials by the day's end that to do so may be just kind of dumb. But I decided that I did want to post something about it, something unsentimental and true.
It was a gorgeous day. The sky was bright blue and there were little puffy white clouds dotted here and there. I was teaching a 9AM class that fall, and, as usual, I was cutting it very close about arriving on time to school. I was listening to NPR that morning, and I was moving at a snail's pace through campus and cursing at the people in front of me who were letting packs of students cross the road in front of them. The voice in the radio said that they had received a report that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers.
And I turned off the radio.
I assumed it was a little plane that hit the top or something. I didn't want to hear it. I mean sure, it would be sad if somebody died or whatever, but I had to get ready to teach, right? I was trying to figure out the plan for my class, which began in minutes. We were reading Paolo Freire's essay "The Banking Concept of Education" that day. Not an easy essay to teach to freshmen.
I arrived in class, probably a minute or two late, though I'm not really sure about that. None of my students had heard the news either, or if they had, they had heard it in the way that I did and completely blew it off. They had rolled out of bed, and some were still in pajamas, and they were trying to wake themselves up and to discuss this stupid essay that we'd read for class that day, right?
I remember feeling like the class went really well. I remember feeling like there was a good energy by the end, and that the students were really learning.
As I walked back up to my office, I ran into my dissertation adviser. He told me what was happening.
I returned to my office, to my department, and everybody was standing around radios trying to hear what was happening. Ultimately I went home, and then began a solid week of being glued to the television.
For a long time I lied to people and said that the first I'd heard about the planes hitting the towers was from my dissertation adviser. I didn't want to admit that I was so self-absorbed and callous that I just flipped off the radio when they first mentioned what I thought was an "accident." But maybe it's better not to lie. Maybe it's better not to sugar-coat it. Because while what happened on 9/11 was horrible, 364 days out of the year most of us don't think twice about it. We're absorbed with our own stuff, and we'll turn off the radio (or the tv, or whatever) rather than be bothered by unpleasant news. So. That's it, I guess. Not exactly a post to be proud of, but maybe something worth posting anyway.
1 year ago