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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

9.11.2007

this has the potential to offend everybody

A lot of people have taken the time to reflect on that day, the day, six years ago, and I'm no different. We've all told this story a thousand times, when we are asked the question, "where were you on 9/11?" Here's mine.



I was in Mrs. McCrory's first period American Greats English class. The day before, my soccer team had beaten Bishop Kearney, and I felt on top of everything. It was, as you all know, a beautiful day--sunny, warm, too nice to be inside. We were reading a handout about Native Americans. A poem maybe? An essay? I'm not sure; I just remember the sketch of a man dressed in Native American garb. Sometime after the Channel One broadcast Ms. Martinez, our principal, got on the loudspeaker. "I have some very sad news to report," she said, and when she was finished I thought, "A plane? Really? Maybe it was a Cesna, one of those Aaliyah planes. The big planes go over my house, not other people's [see: two months & a day later, AA Flight 587]. I'm sure it was nothing."

Then she got back on the loudspeaker, and the news got worse, and she asked that if anyone needed to come down to make a phone call they could. Soon after she got back on again to ask people to bring down their forbidden cell phones--too many people needed to make calls. There weren't enough phones in the office.

We didn't know what to do for the rest of the class, so Mrs. McCrory lead us in a prayer. The bell rang for second period and we found the giant windows facing the bay at the end of the hallway guarded by teachers. Sr. Buckbee stood, arms crossed, by the window I was closest too, and shooed us all away. She was trying to shield us from the image we'd see for the rest of our lives, that thick black smoke ascending into heaven, where buildings had stood just an hour before.

I had keyboarding class next, with Mrs. Petrarca. At that point we were all scared and shaky and unsure of what was happening, and repeated the rumors and all the misinformation we were getting from people on the outside.

"The terrorists hijacked ten planes and they want to land them on the beach."

"Ten thousand people dead."

"I heard the White House got attacked."

"I'm moving out of this country as soon as I can!"



At that point in the year I sat next to Karen Michaels. This was my original seat, before it got changed 100 times for talking too much. Karen was alright to sit next to--she was a senior, older, and usually made good conversation while we typed up business letters and memos and proposals for our fictional business-world bosses(I went to an all-girls school--we were all trained to be secretaries). Today, though, was different. What kind of conversation do you make on a day like today?

After everybody announced their rumors and their fears, we mostly just got quiet, the sound of keys tapping away. Nobody knew what to say. But Karen did. On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, at 10:35 in the morning, Karen Michaels looked around the square computer classroom, at all the scared, multi-ethnic faces, and said in a low, deep voice:


"It's a bad day to be Deepa Sharma."


And God-damn't, in spite of myself, I laughed. So thank you, Karen, wherever you are now. On that day you alleviated all my confusion and hurt with just the right amount of racism. Deepa's just Guyanese, but on that day, it didn't matter. It still sucked to be her. And every time somebody asks me where I was, on that day, I think of that.

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I wonder if my writing has even improved?