On September 11th, 2001 I woke up to my mom sitting, mouth agape, in front of the television. Her stunned facial expression told me that something was going on. As she related the events of the morning to me, I just looked confused and asked questions. Eventually, I got a pretty good grasp on what had happened, so I went upstairs and woke my brother, Jared, up and spilled the news as fast as I could. I’m sure I didn’t relay it correctly, but whatever I said got him out of bed just as quickly as he could move.
That day was spent pouring over the 10 different stations which were all playing the same thing—looping tapes of the twin towers collapsing over and over again, and live footage of the scene; people scurrying, horrified, throughout the streets and coughing in the heavy fog of dust and rubble.
I was only 8 years old at the time, and I know that I didn’t understand the catastrophic magnitude of the events that occurred that day—I didn’t even know what the World Trade Centers or the Pentagon were, but the panic that resonated through the U.S. definitely caused a butterfly effect and ended up getting to me.
By the end of the day, my almost 11 year old brother and I were thoroughly terrified. My parents caught on and suggested that we take a night to have some fun. Jared’s birthday was the next day, and the two of us loved to go out to the “cottage” in our backyard—a tiny little house with 3 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. So, we spent a few hours goofing off out there and trying to get the events of the day off of our mind. After listening to our favorite radio drama—Adventures in Odyssey—and reading for a while, we made our bed in one of the little bedrooms and settled down to get some sleep.
We switched off the lights, but after a moment agreed that it would be safer to leave them on. We got up every 5 minutes to make sure the front door was still locked. We jumped at every little creak that seemed to resonate throughout the little house. Finally, we both got to sleep…but not for long. In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and really wanted to go inside and get some warmer pajamas on, because I was absolutely freezing. I tried to wake Jared up to walk me into the house, but to my great agitation, he didn’t stir.
Finally, I mustered up enough courage to go into the house alone. I gave myself a mental lecture—attempting my own conviction that there was nothing to be afraid of. Stiff as a board, I rolled out of the safety of the covers and made my way over to the bedroom door. When I reached the door (it seemed to take forever), I stretched out my hand and turned the cold doorknob with my trembling fingers.
Horror….The door wouldn’t budge! My heart raced furiously as I replayed in my head the safety precautions we had taken the night before—we had definitely not locked this door. I ran as fast as I could back to the bed and jumped on top of Jared, begging him to “please wake up!” Finally, he opened his eyes and looked at me, slightly annoyed it seemed. I told him what was going on as calmly as I could, because as scared as I was I didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of my older, and highly respected brother.
After listening for a moment, he turned over and closed his eyes once again; ending with a nonchalant, “Try the window.” Of course! The window! I made my way over to the small window, climbing on a couple of things so that I could reach it, and pushed it up with all of my might—no luck. I tried everything to get it to open for about 5 minutes. I looked back at my brother, to see that he had been watching me, dumbfounded from the bed. Finally, he got up, walked over to the door, coolly turned the knob, and opened it. He started laughing really hard, but I definitely wasn’t feeling the humor at the moment. I was still totally freaked out. Eventually, I was able to laugh at myself, which was good because I was the brunt of his jokes for days!
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