I was a sophomore in college and was living by myself for the first time. Not exactly by choice, but living in a single did have its perks. Tuesdays were my busiest class days, with four classes starting at 9am. Since I was generally up late doing homework (or not) the nights before, I usually slept in as late as possible, rising with just enough time to shower, change and walk to my friend's dorm room to pick her up before walking to Astronomy, our first class of the day.
But that morning I woke up to a phone call.
It was my mom, asking if I'd heard what had happened. No, what? Planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, another into the Pentagon. One tower had collapsed. Oh my god, the second tower is collapsing.
Oh my god.
What? No, wait, what? What do you mean? How could this have possibly happened?
I didn't know very many people in that dorm which was my home for a semester. I certainly had no idea where the nearest tv was. I tried to get on any of the news sites but nothing would load. I couldn't understand what my mom was saying while I fumbled at the dial on my ancient radio trying to find out what was happening, what had happened.
I sat there listening to the radio in my pajamas for an hour before realizing I still had class. I had no idea if it was canceled or not, but I wanted to be with friends, with anyone, not alone in my dorm anymore.
I caught a brief glance of a TV set when I got to my friend's dorm room - towers with smoke pouring out against a bright blue background. But wait, I thought they had collapsed? Are they still standing? No, this was what they looked like before they collapsed.
We walked across the main quad. Talking in circles. Who could have done this? How could this have happened? Are there any other planes out there?
The television screen in the Astronomy classroom was the biggest tv I'd ever seen. It was also the first time I saw a plane fly into a building.
My professor turned off the tv and still taught class. He said he had to, he couldn't not. I'm sure I took notes, but I have no recollection of what he taught that morning. I went to each class the rest of the day, not really knowing why, but not knowing what else to do. All of my professors were there. Some canceled class totally, some stayed. There was so much talking about what happened that day.
My dad worked in the tallest building in Seattle. They were all evacuated since no one knew if there were any more planes. There were no commercial planes in the sky for days. I remember the emptiness. Never before had the sky seemed so big, so clear, so empty without anything in it, not even contrails.
I know that my story is just that - a story of one person on a day. My husband lived in New York on that day, while I was 3,000 miles away. He has a very different story of that day. A family friend who would have been eating at Windows on the World except that his breakfast meeting was canceled has yet another story of that day.
But this is my story. I don't feel that ten years has given me any clarity or profound thoughts of that day. Except that when I remember, all those details remain as sharp as they were the day I woke up to a phone call.