where my feet stood

one hot and muggy sunday afternoon i was walking through byu campus with my mother and aunt brenda. i don't remember the year, or why we were there in the first place, but i do remember when we walked about 15 paces outside of the student center when my aunt froze mid step. being a teenager i was quite confused and worried at the same time that people would notice. she was staring down at the ground and then looked me right in the eyes and said, "this is the exact spot i was standing when i heard president kennedy had been shot".  i couldn't believe the intense spark that that sent throughout my body. decades had passed, but standing there, in that spot, it was like it had just happened to her a second before.

on September 11th, 2001 i was a sophomore with 20 credits on my plate. my first class began at 8am and ballet company rehearsals ended at 7:30.  as i shuffled down the stairwell after my 8am humanities lit class i sensed something weird, as though i was out of the loop.  with the time change and a professor who had an hour bus ride with his ipod-no one in our class really knew anything. remember, this is before twitter, and tweeting and facebook and texting and, well, everything.

when one of my feet reached the first floor, and the other still on the last step, my friend shauna rounded the corner just that moment and looked me in the eyes. i felt it, i didn't know what it was, but it was something. "did you hear?" she blurted out. "hear what?" i asked.  the rest was a blur. i don't remember her exact words, or phrase or what she said first, "terrorist, hijacked, twin towers, pentagon, another plane, one tower fell." i have no idea to this day. i do remember the feeling of all the blood rushing away from my brain and putting my hand over my mouth. i wonder where that innate response comes from, covering our mouths? maybe it's because i had no words, thoughts were just whizzing around like the inside of a blender. i don't know if i responded or not, she had to get to class, i had to get to class. it felt like the only thing i could cling on to was the predictable. the known. the safe. my backpack, class, homework, books, rehearsals.

we debated whether or not to even have rehearsals. being in the arts, many faculty and students had friends, relatives & colleagues in manhatten. their was no communication going in or out, and we were completely in the dark. our artistic director decided, it is for the best to just dance. at first i was angry, i hadn't seen a tv yet and literally had been inside classes or dancing all day. but the music started, we wiped our eyes and noses and danced. and danced. and danced. i almost get the same feeling when running with my ipod, as i do when dancing to excellent music. i get lost and forget everything else. it was an amazing respite from the day. we hugged each other in the end and trekked back to our apartments.  i finally sat down and watched the aftermath on tv.

i think that day was the most silent i have ever been in my entire life. in one minute i would feel shock, horror, fear, disbelief, mourning, faith, love, everything. but i felt that again flying into la guardia a few years ago, when the absence of those two giant obelisks was so unbelievably clear.  throughout the years it all seems to fade away. did it really happen? how do we all forget so easily?  but time presses on, no matter who you are and where you live. it can't stop moving, and so we fill our lives with other memories, and other concerns and slowly take for granted the peace that we enjoy each and every day. but i know, on every 11th day of september, i will stop and remember where my feet stood. and thank God for all that i have today, and bless the families who lost someone on that day.

do you remember where your feet stood?


my name is becky kelly said...

my sister and i were talking on the phone about JFK being shot and people who remember when they heard the news. She remembers hearing my grandma talk about WWII and to us it's just history. but she lived it.... to our kids 9/11 is just history, but we lived it. i had to go to work that day. I watched the news with my mom until it was time for me to go. I worked at the mall and, of course, there was no body shopping. they closed the mall early and i went home and watched news with my mom.

Jordan and Jandee said...

I was just talking to Jordan about our comparative experiences of where we were on 9/11 and I talked to him about that ballet class and rehearsals that we were in together. He was on a mission in Canada, and it was the mostly successful street contacting he ever did, I guess no one had it in their heart to be rude to an American that day.

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