If I had known what the movie was about, I probably would not have watched it. I hadn’t read the description very clearly. I thought it was just a movie about a kid with autism. But it wasn’t, and the fact was that last night, this movie:
caused me to have a complete and total meltdown.
I was just watching, hoping it would be a good movie, and then the kid said, “the worst day.” And, immediately, my mind jumped to that day. I pushed it off quickly as I normally do, but then on the kid’s answering machine it said the date and I felt my heart move to my throat and my stomach drop.
I try never to think about that day. It’s too painful. Even now, as I write this, I am shaking. I know it’s not healthy, but I try to completely avoid ever talking about it or even thinking about it. I certainly have avoided nearly every movie or TV show they’ve done on it. That is, until last night, when we popped in that movie for date night.
During the movie, it was so realistic and so upsetting that I was having mini-flashbacks to that day. I was thinking about who it hurt in my life. Emotions were surging, I cried way more than I should have (eyes are uber-puffy this morning), and then I decided to write about it. Perhaps this will give me a bit of closure. Besides, the movie was amazing and helped me feel like somehow writing it out could help me move past it.
I can still see everything in my mind, as if it were happening right now in this very moment. I was in my junior year at Lycoming College. I was in my dorm room, getting ready to take a shower when the first plane hit. We must have had the news on that morning. I think I used to watch the news. I don’t think I ever again intentionally watched the news after that week. It was shocking but we just thought an airplane had malfunctioned. What other explanation could there be? I went and took my shower, and then while I got dressed, the second plane hit. Two planes was no accident. That’s when we started to freak out.
My roommate, Charlene, was there. She pointed out her father’s office building on the screen. I remember she called so many times and couldn’t get through. All the circuits were busy. She was my best friend, and she didn’t know if her dad was okay or not. Then we learned about the Pentagon. I reminded myself that Williamsport was a small town and that nothing would happen there, but it was hard. And then the towers fell. I can’t even describe the emotion I felt in that moment. I was completely and utterly frozen in fear and sadness.
The attack took away any feeling of the safety I had. Worried about my friend and her family, unable to understand what happened, I walked through campus, trying to make sense of it all. I think the hardest part was that I couldn’t escape it. The news coverage was over the top, sharing everything and showing the images of the towers over and over and over and over again. In the cafeteria, Fox News was spurting hatred while I ate my cereal or salads or burgers. The images flashed everywhere. There was no escaping them. After a while, I stopped looking and I tried to block it out.
Finally, after what seemed like days (it might have actually been days), Charlene found out that her dad was fine. Though, being a Vietnam war vet with PTSD, he was very shaken up. He told her that it was so loud when it happened, that he thought he was back in the war again, and crawled under his desk, reliving his experience in the war.
When I talked with my mom, she told me that someone from our church was in the towers. Our church only had about 30 people in it. I knew the man well. I had given his daughter piano lessons, I think. Luckily, he got out, but most of his coworkers didn’t. I can’t even imagine how he must have felt. But, I could see it when I came home on breaks. He was never the same again. Maybe he’s okay now, but I can still see his face as he sat there with his family in their pew.
So, why, you may ask, did I have such a strong reaction? Why did I take it so hard? Why do I start shaking and crying every time I think about it or hear about it? I don’t know. Just having people close to me hurting and imagining the suffering of those people and those families in combination with the barrage of media coverage that wouldn’t let me get past it that week and that feeling of being completely unsafe. It did something to me. Something I haven’t been able to get past.
I’ve never gotten over it.