I recall that I was in fourth grade.
When you are in fourth grade, your days are filled with recess, ephemeral friendships, an occasional candy melting in your pocket. You don’t think about the people who pass on or world events. You don’t necessarily understand what tragedy is yet. Unless you were an unfortunate victim of death or abuse early on, your mind filters the good from the hard truths of adulthood.
So it’s a shock to hear the ‘oh my fucking god’ filtering over the static on the intercom as the entire administrative office stares at the T.V. It’s a shock to look out the window and see a distant cloud of asbestos erupt from across the bay. It’s a shock to watch as your teacher bursts into tears as she tries to call her husband.
When you’re in fourth grade, though, you don’t understand what’s going on. And even if you ask the omniscient adults, you still won’t know because they don’t know either.
On 9/11, nearly half of my fourth grade class lined up outside of the principal’s office, borrowing their teacher’s cellphones and trying every number they could remember. On this day, nearly seven years ago, my classmates found out what it really means to die, how it feels to find your beloved parent/sibling/relative/friend a lifeless broken body.
Most of my classmates didn’t even have a body to grieve over.
I have since moved from the city. But mark this: I still remember.