On September 11, 2001, I was still in highschool. It was a Tuesday afternoon in Germany, I remember it clearly. My family and me were about to have a late lunch, my boyfriend of that time had just left to attend his tutoring job. He called me a few minutes after he had left. I don’t recall if, when I took his call, I had already seen it on the news, or if seeing it on the news and him calling me happened simultaneously. Anyway, we had the TV turned on, and there were the first images of the plane and the North tower (I guess it was the northern tower, the second plane hadn’t crashed the South tower at that time). My mother was coming into the living room, holding a pot of pasta in her hands, and we suggested to leave that aside and watch what was going on in the world. But, placing the pasta on the table, she simply remarked, if there was a war coming, she’d just poison our food. She said nothing more, but made us have lunch together, while the TV was still on, delivering the news to us, bit by bit. Not turning into a picky eater was a hard task that day.
I remembered that today, because I figure going to the 9/11 memorial automatically lets you go back to whatever you were doing on that September 11, 2001. Maybe it is the aura of witnessing something that has a historic impact that you are very well aware of. It might be that, but in the case of 9/11 I am sure it is also the shock and an overload of emotions attached to it. Yes, I was tremendously shocked, and afraid, and not really able to live normally for the first days afterwards.
Today we took the opportunity of the Free Admission Tuesday, saved $24 bucks each and saw the exhibit at the 9/11 memorial museum. Ouch! Can a place be more crowded with memorabilia? It is shocking; it felt huge and enormous, and I felt the tears piling up in my eyes. They have parts of the buildings on display, there’s this huge part of steel hanging from the wall, visualizing the impact the planes had on the towers. There were shoes everywhere, high heels that women fleeing the towers left behind. Names and names and names of people who did not survive, bicycles still attached to a bike parking spot, covered in ashes. And the fire truck, with its scrambled ladder. What force, what impact! And the exhibition goes on, there’s another item on display, another sad story told, another hero heroically remembered, another flag, torn and filthy, a picture of a man with a bloody face. And it goes on and on. I am overwhelmed. Is that too much? It is! It’s hard to handle. Is it just an expression of the event’s impact? Maybe. I don’t know.
I cannot stand it anymore, and I make my way, I try to make my way out of here, trying to pass people, but it’s crowded. I cannot just leave (an excuse, just with the girl whom I didn’t give a dollar?), or do I wanna stay, see more, get ever more thrilled?
Anyway, the shock washes away fairly soon. I’m able to have a snack soon afterwards. But I need to write that down, anyway. I’m not a picky eater, and refusing to eat is not my way of expressing that something has had an impact on me. (Guess that’s the way I was brought up, not poisoned, but befouled nevertheless.)