Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where Were You When....?

I watched the movie "World Trade Center" today. I remember when the movie came out, I couldn't watch it because it seemed to be "too soon," and I wsan't sure I could handle the intensity.

Well, the intensity was still there, but the edge was off enough for me to get something out of the movie. It was sad of course, yet the movie strove to focus on the positive aspects resulting from the tragic situation. I am glad I watched the movie, all in all.

It got me thinking. 9/11 was one of the defining events of my lifetime. I remember down to tiny details that September morning. Plato had just turned 6 weeks old. He was colicky and slept very little. I was incredibly sleep deprived, and had sent JeepMan off to work that morning planning to try to squeeze in a little more sleep before Plato started screaming. As usual, it wasn't to be, and I got up, changed his diaper, got him a bottle, and sat down in the recliner just before 9 am to feed him. I turned on the television and started flipping channels. It wasn't long before I came across a news channel with that eternal image: Tower 1, rising up against the clear blue sky, black smoke billowing from the upper floors and the occasional lick of orange flame appearing momentarily. I squinted my bleary eyes as my brain tried to process what I was seeing. I flipped to another news station, then another, and another, unable to process what I was seeing. Soon I watched the second plane hit Tower 2, and at that point the phone rang: JeepMan asking if I was up and if I could believe what was happening. Reality struck at that moment: I couldn't deny what was going on if another living person was sharing my bafflement.

I picked up Plato, cuddled him close, and paced the floor. Soon thePentagon was hit, then Tower 2 collapsed, then the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, then Tower 1. I couldn't stand it anymore. I turned the television off and danced around the living room holding Plato tight and singing him songs from the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack: "I'll Fly Away," "You Are My Sunshine," "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby," "Down To The River To Pray," "Keep On The Sunny Side," "Angel Band," "I Am Weary (Let Me Rest);" for months I listened to these songs over and over again. I still listen to them frequently; sounds from another era, heart-wrenching, bittersweet, optimistic, and spiritual...they can still remind me that despite great tragedy, we move on.

Remembering 9/11 sparked other memories:

The Challenger crash: I watched it in 6th grade, and despite the tragedy, I don't recall being terribly moved. A combination of my youth and the fact that I was watching TV, I suppose. The enormity of it didn't hit me until I started hearing the backstories of the astronauts.

OJ Simpson - the Chase: Out on a date with Hubby at a seedy little bar. Buzzing nicely, wondering what the heck all the cops were doing chasing down a white Bronco that was only going about 20 mph.

OJ Simpson - the Verdict: This was a scary one. I was doing a psych nursing rotation for school. My assigned ward was the schizophrenia ward and they were doing medical trials which involved taking patients off their meds for weeks (med-washing), then getting brain scans and re-working their medication regimen. So I was sitting in the commons of a locked psych wards with about 15 non-medicated schizophrenic patients when I heard those dreaded words, "Not Guilty."

Princess Diana's death: working nights at my first ICU job. Not a very busy night, and we took turns checking the patients while the rest of the staff sat in an empty patient room watching the scene unfold.

There are probably other defining moments, but these are the ones that come to mind.

Do you remember where you were?

(pssst...if you're trying to calculate my age, I'll make it easy for you: I'm 35)


Kirsten said...

Your "life altering" events are the same as mine... and we are the same age, so it makes sense.

Challenger: I was at home for lunch and was watching the launch because our classes were planning on following Christa McAuliffe's science lessons. Even now, when they show the footage, I can't watch the whole thing.

OJ chase: I think I caught a glimpse or two of it on TV, but didn't really care. It wasn't until we heard "OJ" that anyone even paid attention.

OJ verdict: Watched this one. I think it was a break from something or other at nursing school and it had monopolized the TV for so long that we just wanted to see it over. Definitely not how we expected it to end, however.

Princess Di: Awake. Going through my own emotional turmoil and having many sleepless nights. I had just finished nursing school and I don't think it had sunk in yet that I was no longer in school... I was aimless. I watched all night long and into the morning when the AM news shows took over and ran with it.

Columbia crash: I didn't know right away what had happened, caught up with this one on the morning news shows. Had watched it orbit at night and remember feeling incredibly sad and immediately thought of where I was for the Challenger.

9/11: I was at work, nightshift. Had to stay over to do some charting, and remember going into a room to check on something that I couldn't remember, and the first plane had just hit. Everyone in the hospital suddenly was glued to a TV, somewhere. I remember finishing my charting as quickly as I could, rushing home, and turning on the TV at home to continue watching. My husband and I watched, the flames, the smoke, the people jumping... that was the hardest. And then as we watched, plane #2. Then the Pentagon. The collapse of the first tower. Reports of another plane not responding. The second tower falling. And just crying. Scared. Wondering what would be hit next. Worrying about my family in Canada who live surrounded by the nuclear power plants. Something I will never, ever forget.

Monnik said...

This is a well written post. I remember all of these events like they were yesterday.

The SUV Bitch said...

It is amazing how many "Remember where" moments there are for our generation, considering our parents thought their big "remember where" was JFK being shot.

I was in 1st grade when the Challenger blew up. My teacher cried. We were all very upset. I think a few kids cried, actually. It was one of the first things on television I remember seeing that really scared me.

The rest... well, I might just steal your blog idea. It's a great post!

Tiff said...

I only remember where I was for a couple of these.

Challenger: Some friends and I were talking to the school secretary and they had it on the TV in the office.

Princess Diana: I was riding around in a limo after a friend's wedding when we heard it on the radio.

9/11: After getting off work I went straight to bed but the husband woke me up before he went to school to tell me about it. I watched for awhile but since I had to work again that evening, I couldn't stay up to watch much of the coverage. It seemed very surreal, especially coming off a 12 hour night shift.

Debbielou said...

I can remember exactly the same events

9/11 - Just after my daughters birthday - I remember there being a news flash on the TV and standing there watching and not believing what I was seeing with my baby daughter in my arms - I then had to pick my boy up from school and everyone talking about it - one of the mothers had not heard and was in a terrible state as her husband was working nearby and she hadn't heard from him - luckily he was ok. It's strange what you said about the Brother where art thou music - we have that CD having watched the film - probably around this time .

The London bombings - Hearing the news and worrying about my sister in law who works in the city. We defiantly went up to London that week to watch Chitty chitty bang bang at the theatre. The day after my father in law died of Leukaemia. One hell of a week !

OJ Simpson verdict - Hubby and I were in the USA doing a fly drive - the verdict came out over the radio and we were really shocked that he was not found guilty.

Princess Diana - My hubby too had been working the night shift and came home and told me in the early hours - couldn't believe the news. It devastated everyone- even those who never met or knew her - the flowers on the funeral coffin with the words "Mummy" on from Prince Harry were heart breaking. I was on maternity leave at the time and can remember bawling my hours out watching it on the TV

The death of Elvis prestley being announced on the radio - I'm older than you ! I can remember standing in our kitchen with my Mum baking and hearing the news and wondering what all of the commotion was about.

Very thought provoking post x

Travis Erwin said...

We are the same age and I recall when Reagan was shot and when Elvis dies but I was young for the second one. I only remember it because my mom was a huge Elvis fan and refused to believes the first person that told her of his death.

writtenwyrdd said...

Life changing events:
The JFK funeral. I wasn't 3 yet, but I can remember my mother's crying and JonJon in his short pants, holding his mama's hand. (I'm 47.)

Apollo Moon landing. Sitting in front of our tv, watching in awe as Armstrong said the famous line. Anything was supposed to be possible after that.

Iran prisoners released. 1980. I was in Army Basic Training. Hearing I wasn't about to go to war was a heart-lightening feeling.

Challenger crash: In college. I came home for lunch to my apartment (I was a married student living on campus) and my hubs told me it had just happened and the first replay appeared on the television. One of my classmates had been Krista's kids' babysitter before starting college that year (I was at the Univ. of NH)

OJ: I don't recall exactly what I was doing, but I was living in SF at the time. Lots of controversy and hard feelings because OJ was a local boy.

9/11: I was on midnight shifts, woke up, saw the news and sat there stunned.