Where were you six years ago?

What were you doing when time seemed to stand still?

I remember it as clear as day, even though at the time, it felt like a horrible dream. Tuesday morning, September 11 2001 — I was sleeping over at my then boyfriend’s (now husband’s) place, a college party house that was the scene for many crazy get-togethers and good times. He had been up since dark morning, studying for a big test. His roommate was a night owl, and he’d been up all night and had heard before anyone else in the house did. The two roommates watched the early reports together, tried to wrap their minds around the unfolding scene.

I remember someone softly touching my leg to wake me up — way too early. I grumbled, then looked at my boyfriend’s shocked, scared face. He had turned on the little TV in our room. Smoke billowed from a gaping hole in a building. The reporters were tripping over themselves, narrating the awful scene. We watched people jump from the damaged tower, bodies as small as ants tumbling that horrific distance down. What? I couldn’t even grasp what I was watching. We were sitting in bed together when the second plane hit. That’s when the phone started ringing.

The first call was from our friend Jenny. She’s from Washington DC, so she was terrified for her family. She didn’t want to go to class. We told her to come over right away. That happened all morning — friends kept calling us, looking for somewhere to go, trying to assemble a collection of loved ones at a time when their families seemed so frighteningly distant. I changed clothes — couldn’t tear myself away from the news long enough to take a shower. The phone kept ringing. Throughout the morning friends came over and crowded into the tiny, dirty bedroom. At one point, I counted fifteen heads — people sat on the bed, on the ground, on the one chair there was in the room. We all stared intently at the TV. The only sounds were the television, snatches of bewildered conversation, occasional gasps, quiet weeping. Every now and then someone left the room to try calling family and friends in Washington and New York. Nobody could get through. Nobody knew what city would be hit next. I prayed. At that point, I hadn’t really PRAYED in years, unless it was a brief “God guide me” before a college test. But faith came flooding back in the shadow of my fears.

“Miami has no targets. We’re cool,” our friend Lino assured. We tried to think of where a potential local target could be, and we couldn’t think of one. But everyone was still too scared to leave. I don’t remember how the day ended — at some point, people trickled out of the room, went home to tend to their usual affairs, called the school to figure out if classes were taking place. I don’t remember the afternoon, but the morning is seared into my memory forever.

CNN’s running a viewer poll today — do you feel safer six years later? From the brief glance I just got, it appears the majority has answered no. Looking back on the assurances given in the days that followed 9/11, and the fact that Bin Laden dropped a new video to remind the world that he’s still around, hiding but not yet captured, it seems to me that our priorities shifted somewhere along the way. What say you?

Where were you six years ago, when time seemed to stand still?

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