Nine years ago today I was sitting in Mr. W’s sophomore biology class. On the morning of the attacks, Mr. W. turned on our classroom tv for about a minute, while our class stared at the screen, most of us glazed over and sleepy, watching a pixelated image of black smoke billowing from the top third of Tower I. I wondered if people were dying. Sure, people were dying, I figured, there must several dozen dead. So I guess that tower’s gonna need lots of repairs, I thought just before Mr. W turned off the tv and resumed a lecture on mitosis or something like that.
I remember that Mr. W would sometimes talk about things that had a tenuous link to biology, like male aggression. He once told us about an incident when he and his older brother were play fighting on the sidewalk. Mr. W’s brother grappled his shoulders, which Mr. W countered by droppping onto his back and donkey kicking his brother, sending him flying onto the floor. “The look in his eyes when he got up was pure rage, man. He was ready to fight for real because I had challenged his status as alpha male.” I remember that my desk mate had a gas problem and that he would discreetly try to blow his farts back under our desk so that they wouldn’t rise to nostril level. The entire school was let out right after my biology class ended. The school hallways flooded instantaneously, and I remember one wide-eyed girl running out of a classroom with a huge grin on her face. She was so happy to get out of school early.
My sister and I caught a ride from school back home. By the time we got home, Tower II had collapsed and CNN was replaying the same footage over and over, of an entire tower collapsing as if it was made of cinder. Then I felt a sickening mixture of grief and shame. Can’t really explain that one. And then things went from bad to worse– the whole decade, I mean. Damn, my condolences.