Reflections – 11. September

Well, it seems like everyone’s talking about today being the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th. What can really be said that hasn’t already been said? Possibly nothing. For that very reason, I wasn’t even going to mention anything. I did think I could write one of those “Where were you?” type of blogs for today, but that seemed a bit self-indulgent, somehow. Then again, what is a blog if not a vehicle for self-indulgence, and for people to put their mundane thoughts into words? So, if you want to read or respond, have at it, but if not, that’s also fine.
On September 11, 2001, I was studying in Regensburg, Germany. When the attacks started happening it was mid-afternoon, and I was hanging out in my friend Bobby’s dorm room checking my email. I was chatting with my friend Brad, and he mentioned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I tried to find some information on some internet news sites, but it was quite hard due to the internet at the time. Bobby and I went to try the TV in his dorm’s kitchen, but it was either a black-and-white TV or it had terrible reception, or both. I think eventually we went to a TV room in his dorm and watched TV news, but by then the attacks had happened. The news was in German, and it certainly wasn’t saturating the airwaves, or at least it wasn’t at that point.  
This is hard to explain, but I feel like I missed out on something by not being in the US on that day. From what I heard from friends, things changed quite noticeably right that day, but I never picked up on that vibe since I didn’t return to live in the US until almost a year later. I guess I missed a sort of cultural touchstone, to put it mildly and insufficiently. 
I also think a lot about the World Trade Center towers themselves, since I had visited them with my mom a few months before. I guess you could say I’d always been a bit of a skyscraper nerd. When I was younger I had posters of skylines in my room, and I had always wanted to go to New York for some reason. I wanted to go to the tops of the biggest buildings in the world, but I was born in a city that apparently didn’t even possess an escalator (I once even spent a lot of time thinking about this when I was younger; if anyone knows whether or not Fort Collins had an escalator circa 1994, I’d be happy if you could prove or disprove my notion). In any case, my mom and I went to New York in 2001 as a sort of combined Birthday-Mother’s Day-Christmas present from me to her that year (I had started driving the Buff Bus and I evidently felt I was quite a big shot). As part of our trip we made it a point to go to both the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. We even ate at the Windows on the World restaurant. I guess I just wonder how many other people never got to have an experience like that.
There was one good thing about that day, although it was completely unrelated to what happened in the US. As I mentioned before, I was living and studying in Regensburg with a group from Colorado. We all lived in individual rooms in student housing, but we had the opportunity to meet a local family so that we could have more contact with Germans. On that same night, we were supposed to meet our “host families.” Despite the distance between us and the tragedy, many of us were sad and somewhat in shock, of course. But since we couldn’t really do anything about it and since it was already evening, we still decided to have a big meet-up. So that evening I met the Friedrichs, one of the nicest families I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my life. I’ve still kept in contact with them over these last 10 years, and I’ve visited them a few times in Germany and Sweden, also (it turns out that with a Swedish mom and an Austrian dad, they weren’t so German after all, but that’s just fine with me). I hope that I can keep up that contact long into the future.
In any case, that was my self-indulgent September 11th blog post. As before, if you have any comments or want to say what you were up to that day, feel free to say hi.
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4 thoughts on “Reflections – 11. September

  1. There’s obviously lots that I remember about that day, but I’ll always remember that the very first time that I heard about the attacks, I was getting off the school bus at FCHS, and this really annoying kid at school ran up to me and said “Hey Paul, did you hear that some planes ran into those towers in New York?” and I replied to something of the effect of “Shut the hell up.” because a) I thought he was kidding and b) I wanted him to shut the hell up. 30 seconds later, I walked inside and saw everyone staring at the TVs.

  2. that day in the Vitusheim dorm room certain is an indelible memory for me too. And the TV was indeed in black and white. It’s remarkable how similar my memory and feelings around the day are to yours. It sure was an amazing gesture by the host families to sympathize with our feelings.
    You say here that you felt a bit blue that you didn’t have the chance to experience it in the States. I can relate to that feeling, but at the same time we didn’t spend the subsequent months as the country turned insane with irrational jingoism. (I’m sure brother Matt wouldn’t like my lack of patriotism).
    Keep up the great blogging, brother Ryan.

    Bob

  3. Hey Bob,

    Thanks for the comment. I guess we must have spent a good deal of that day together. And you’re right, the host families were very nice that evening.

    And I wouldn’t say I’m sorry I missed being in the US that day, but I think because I wasn’t there I missed a big change in what was going on in the country’s mindset, and I’ve not necessarily been able to relate to or pick up on that feeling since.

    And I think you’re pretty right-on about the jingoism. Way to git ‘er done, Bobbo.

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