September 11, 2011

Ten years ago...

Ten years ago, I was in my first year at Syracuse University, a few hours away from New York City. I was dreading the next day because it was the anniversary of my dad's death and in those days it was still very fresh and emotional.

I was getting ready for my first class around 9:30 when my mom called and said "Turn on the TV," and that was it. I switched on my set and dropped to the ground. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My mom was concerned for me even though she knew I wasn't in the city. Typical mom.

My roommate, who was in the Air Force ROTC, was usually gone by 5am so I didn't have anyone to talk to. I ended up going onto campus which was usually abuzz with frisbee throwers, picnicking students, and just the general bustle of day to day goings on. Today it was a ghost town. It was quiet and that was eerie.

I went to class because I didn't know what else to do. It was a lab for an anthropology class and I remember about four or five of us showed up and all we did was talk. It was comforting to know others around me were just as scared and stunned. One of my friends in the class was a little asian girl who was from Manhattan and her absence made it feel more real.

Being so close to the city, a very large population of students were from NYC, or had friends and family in NYC so it really affected so many around me. I remember the feeling that night when me, my roommate and her boyfriend sat watching the tv that this was the beginning of something big.

Conspiracy theories were abuzz but it was really to feel the void of actually knowing what was going on. This was terrifying. This didn't happen here. This didn't happen to us. I remember thinking if I was being held on a plane by guys with cardboard cutters, I would take the risk to fight back. How much damage could they do and certainly if one person started to attack others would follow. And besides at that time you could take loads of things on a plane. One well placed knitting needle could really do some damage. These were the things I was thinking at the time.

As a photojournalism student, the pull to go to the city was intense, but I knew I would be in the way and I hadn't gone into the city at that point so it was scary. This was when I knew I could never be a war photographer. The fear overpowered the need to tell the story.

I can believe it's been ten years mainly because it is always in our minds when we travel, when conflicts arise abroad, with constant news from Afghanistan on the news. This is our generations version of "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" but instead instead of one man it was over 3,000. Where were you on 9/11?

(The photo is of me in Central Park when I was in university)

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