Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Double-ty Elevens: Lest I forget

I'm not sure what's going on at Mrs. Olsen's house. I mean, I feel like I have a lot to say, but have proceeded on a mystic impetus to shut up. Or maybe turn off. Since I'm averaging one post a month right now (does anybody miss me?) my mystic impetus has temporarily aligned with the mass reminiscing, crossroads of life, wetting-your-pants impossibility of that fateful day: September 11, 2001. Those double elevens hit me today (the 22nd) and said: tick-tock, almost out of time, don't forget. Never forget.

So I figured I would remember. Mostly for the sake of my kids I think. Because first of all, 2001 was a big deal to me. I gave birth to my very first child, and my only daughter, in my home state of Idaho, on the bathroom floor. On
purpose. It was a year of drought, thirsty crops, and one of those freak Idaho storms that dumped snow on the ground on June 13th. The next day the snow was gone, and I learned for the last time (because before then I had forgotten, as I'm sure you have and still are) that
Flag Day is a real holiday on June 14th and I'll be darned if that holiday isn't overshadowed by that big, badass 4th of July. And I'll be darned if those bouquets congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Olsen on a healthy daughter didn't have little flags in them because Rainbow Girl was born on that day. Flag day.

And then, because newborn babies sleep soooo much and leave plenty of free time for reading textbooks, analyzing essay themes, and writing 20 page papers (new motherhood myth #1) I figured I had one last chance to finish that bachelors degree that got sidetracked with The Mister's employment. So for one crazy semester, The Mister lived in Idaho with her folks while he worked. Mrs. Olsen lived in Utah with his folks (and a brand spankin' new grandkid) and went to school. Plus she was fat. And really really tired.

So enough already. A visiting professor from Germany taught me all things Saul Bellow on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I had a beautiful newborn who I was determined would know the scriptures, love the outdoors, and be funny. He had world perspective and a twinkle in his eye.

So maybe that's the reason I was one of only 2 students that showed up on campus to attend class that crazy morning of September 11th. The first guy was likely nursing a hangover and didn't have a clue that his and my world was changing. But me? I was almost ashamed to get on my bike, leave home, and head for class considering I had already heard that the first tower was hit (emergency? accident? hostile act?) and had been glued to the TV watching and wondering when the second tower was hit(check. check. check. All of the above.). I mean why would I try to go to class? National Emergency! Get a freaking clue! Heck, family emergency! My sister-in-law lived in New York and the family was frantically trying to get through to her on the phone. Okay, see ya. I'm gonna see if they're holding class.

I cringe.

But 8 years later I understand.

I needed world perspective. I did not understand what the hell was going on! What in the crap world did I just bring my kid into?! So I left home and shamefully clung to the edge of the campus building, not even daring to go inside. I nursed an innermost desire that my German Professor, a guy who started innocent and beautiful (as all children start their mortal journey) and grew up in a post-Holocaust world skipping around war-torn rubble in the country despised by the rest of the planet, that this teacher would maybe arrange our desks in a circle? Then maybe he would humbly, and with an outpouring of love born of experience and age, would dissect this horrific, mysterious story unraveling before my eyes? Please?

Uuumm, teacher? I just saw a burning building on TV, and people so freaked out above the burn line they were jumping to the ground, and even with all my years of training watching All-American action movies that was different. It was real. And it took my breath away. Hollywood should not be so light-hearted, ya know? And why were little kids in Pakistan on the news cheering when they heard about the attacks?

At that time, I had expected one day to go to Paris, mis-pronounce fancy cheeses and be cursed by the arrogant French for not knowing their language and signed off as being a st[ewe]pid Ame*guttural choke*can! I had not expected to travel the planet and be cursed as an infidel, my blood spilled because of my heritage.

September 11th, 2001 was my first real dose of foreign policy and a shrinking planet. It was like drinking a tall 16 ounce glass of vinegar. And it was more than just remorse over pretended travels. There was so much pain. So much fear. So much hate born of suffering.

I still don't understand.

Neither did my teacher, I guess. Cause he didn't sit me in a circle and talk about being a German kid after the Holocaust and how ugly things happen while beauty (and babies) still exist and flower. He shuffled to campus, saw there were only 2 idiots from his class calloused enough to leave the absolute terror unfolding on the news, and with a furrowed brow waved his hand back and forth and mumbled 'No Class Today'.

Of course. Of course.

I hurried back home with just enough time to witness, to my horror, the collapsing of the towers, the Pentagon crash, and Flight 93 spiraling headlong into a Pennsylvania field. I held my baby girl, called my husband, worried for my new sister through marriage, and waited and wondered. As for my sister-in-law, Mandy? She had a long walk home that day (no subway, no cabs, total craziness), and thankfully, was unharmed. Tasted a little dust, saw her city become a war zone, worried about friends, and like me, was changed forever that day.

For me? I retreated alone downstairs, picked up a spare guitar, and started strumming and praying. This song is not amazing, but it is a true reaction born of September 11th, or "Nine-Eleven". I was certain of a melodic line in the second verse with the words big jet plane...but it never found a place in this song. It is a record for my family. It is unfinished.

*This is where the song will be updated tomorrow*


LGH said...

THe answer is a definite YES. I did miss you. I love your blog. And, this tribute to 9-11 is very honest, poignant, and heartfelt. Thanks, Amber, for making us reflect on what was a very significant even in our lives and history.

paula said...

Yes I miss your posts! I love hearing about people's 9/11 stories. It still amazes me that happened.

Wade and Marilyn said...

That was a beautiful entry about a horrible day. It was the type of day we will all remember where we were when it happened. I have missed your blogs.

Candice said...

I remember the Space Shuttle taking off in Kindergartedn, the Columbia explosion, and I remember 9/11.

I had almost forgotten. Thanks for the reminder. It brought back my feelings.

By the way, I am really interested in the story about you having a baby on the bathroom floor on purpose. 'Really interested' is an understatement.

Also, what a sacrifice for your degree. Good job.

Lee Family said...

I've missed your blog too Sissy. That was a great short film too. When 9/11 came here this year and our fire station had its trucks out with the ladders raised bearing the flags on the top, it was a great visual/backdrop to tell Porter about 9/11 but I didn't know how to. I really didn't know how to explain it. It brought back my feelings of PURE CONFUSION that I felt the day it happened - especially other countries cheering and happy because of our tragedy - I'm still confused. Anyway, thanks for this post Bos. I'm so excited to see you!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I miss you.

Thanks for sharing your memories.

jennaloha said...

I love seeing you on my blog, and I love reading your posts. You should post more. Way more. I love the smuggled "badass" words you use, because I never dare. It makes me feel too naughty. It's the overprotective Rexburg in me, I guess. So keep writing. I will buy one of your books someday.

Angie said...

I've missed you too! Great post...I'm interested in the song you wrote...your "tomorrow was like 2 weeks ago!

Jenny said...

I miss you! Most definitely.

Patty said...

Amber Dear,
You have a talent with words. Beautiful post. Thank you.