Blog and family and reviews12 Sep 2019 08:17 pm
Years ago in physical therapy school, life was so simple. Eat, study, sleep, go to gym, go to class, study for exams, take exam, celebrate finishing exam, watch sports or watch movies to unwind, repeat cycle. I was very focused on what I needed to do to be successful in grad school. September 11, 2001 changed everything. This is the first time I’ve talked it about since then and it still hurts. It marked the end of our innocence. It was the first major life event our group of friends came up against. Most of our friends from college were moving along and preparing for the next major transition. Some were in grad school, while others were “becoming adults” and moving up the ladder in the corporate world“. Most of my friends from college moved to big cities like LA, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. There were still a few of us in Michigan. I tried to start fresh in LA, but I decided to come home and go to physical therapy school in Michigan. I’ll admit it was probably for the best because there weren’t as many distractions. On Sept 10, 2001 – the day before everything happened I went to a Detroit Tigers game with some of my classmates. We were right behind first base on the field. I have never sat that close to the field. We were in prime position to snag grounder foul balls. We all brought our baseball mitts with the hope that we would be lucky enough to snag one. I don’t remember the intricacies of the game, but I do remember cheering for a player named “Wendell” cause he had an extremely uncommon sports name and we probably had a few refreshing ballpark beers. Anyways, to our surprise we were able to snag a foul ball and were ready to bring our “trophy” to class the next day to brag about all the fun we had at the game.

The next morning, I remember waking up and going through my regular morning ritual before our first class of the day. My roommate usually lagged behind me. He was still on the couch glued to the news when I left, but I thought nothing of it. I’ll admit that I was the nerd in grad school who liked to get to class early and review my notes before the lecture. I can’t say the news of the first tower strike really hit me until I arrived at school and it was all anyone was talking about. I thought that it must have been an accident. Then we heard about a second plane crashing into the other World Trade Center tower. We were shocked. This definitely was not an accident! Someone orchestrated this! And then I got a call from my girlfriend from undergrad saying that our friend Christina works at the World Trade Center and no one had heard from her! That’s when the gravity of the situation hit me. It hit me hard. Our crew used to hangout at her apartment all the time. I lost touch with Christina after graduation, but my girlfriend at the time was still pretty close to her. I called my other friends in New York to make sure everyone was OK. Many of my friends from undergrad were in New York and we were updated about everyone. Another one of my friends from undergrad worked there, but he wasn’t at the office that day! I got scared when we didn’t hear back from Christina. She used to be the “moron police” whenever me and my buddies were acting stupid. Her look of stern disapproval instantaneously evaporated any thoughts of mischief in anyone caught in her gaze. For the first time in my life I was genuinely concerned with a peer’s well being. No one had ever been sick or had any major life crisis. Having a friend caught up in the reality of the situation made me realize that although we were heading in different directions, we started the journey to adulthood together from the same place with similar ambitions and roots. It made me wonder how we grew apart. After graduation, everyone goes in different directions. Everyone gets busy and it takes work to maintain those friendships, especially with the people who helped mold you into the person you become today. I lost contact with her my senior year of undergrad because we both got busy pursuing our own interests. I remember driving from Michigan to New York City a day after with some friends who probably felt the same. I’m not sure what we could actually do there, but I’m pretty sure it helped being around others that had similar feelings. People came to New York City from all over but most notably: Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and California. All I remember was a silent 10 hour car ride to New York, but things got really somber once we got to the tunnel into the city. Seeing most of our friends from undergrad together made us feel a little better, but everyone was missing the one person that united us. We needed each other at that particular moment because it was such a confusing time. We had no idea what to say to each other. Sometimes a hug from a loved one or friend is all the talking we need. I remember going to the site and looking at all the pictures posted of missing people and the crowd of people searching for friends and loved ones. My heart dropped. I felt sad and confused how this could have happened. I remember the look on the faces of the police officers doing crowd control. They probably felt the same helpless because there was nothing they could do. I made eye contact with one officer. I could tell he felt the same feelings of helplessness. He let our group come up to the front of the barricades and pay our respects/ say our prayers.

Fast forward to 2019, I decided to symbolically fly on 9/11 back to Michigan to clean out my mom’s basement. As I sit back and recall all the emotions from that tumultuous week, I’m glad that there were people around so that we could go through the emotions together. I still miss Christina, but I’m sure she would be proud to see we are are still there for each other AND how much we’ve grown since our days at “the apartment”.

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