10 years ago, I was sitting in Genetics class in Mudd Hall, trying to stay awake through my first lecture of the academic year. I had just flown in from Singapore (27hour flight!) the night prior so I was still pretty jet lagged. And having missed the first 2 days of class (my birthday was on the first day of class so instead of flying back to school, I kinda delayed my departure in order to celebrate it with my family), I was desperately trying to at least pretend to be a little contrite.
About 10 mins after the start of the class, the professor was just going through chromosomes I think, when one of the co-director of the class rushes in, keys jiggling away in his cargos, whispers a few words to the professor, and then he turned around and said classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. I couldn’t believe my ears. Why? and then I thought, damm, I should have stayed at home for one more day if I knew they were going to cancel class! Then he said there was a terrorist attack. I thought, shit. On campus? Really? What’s there to terrorize in Baltimore? It can terrorize itself, we don’t need any terrorists. In fact, Baltimore probably terrorizes terrorists!
So we all left, everyone was talking at once and it was really hard to listen to any one real conversation. And then our cells started to ring, or maybe we just started to call people to see if anyone knew anything. And then someone, one of the us, said he was just told by his brother that a plane had crashed into the world trade center. I was confused. Baltimore had a world trade centre? And then someone clarified that it was New York. oh. And I remembered we started calling, or tried to call S’s brother because he was working at wall street. Engaged tone. shit. And then I thought of my parents. uh-oh. I called them, told them I was safe. My mom said, yea, I know. You are back in Baltimore. And yes, I’m one of the good girls who don’t really say they are going back to school only to wander around the Big City just ‘cos. ok, that was settled. We stood under the hot morning sun trying to get a hold of S’s brother until someone told us that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon too and that they were asking everyone to either go back home or back to the dorms. Apparently they were still trying to figure out if they should evacuate the school. And that there was a lot of radioactive stuff on campus and we might have to evacuate. oh. So we all trotted back to my apartment where my roommate had already gathered people in the living room, with CNN on. So we all watched. I think the towers might have collapsed by then. But we all sat there glued to the tv. Eventually we ran out of chips, and people started to leave. But it wasn’t until about midnight that our apartment was finally empty. We got a hold of S’s brother. He was ok. i still don’t know how many of our classmate’s parents were killed in the Pentagon or the towers. But the mood on campus the next day, the next week, the whole month was quiet. And very sad. People tried to justify that sadness. And then there were people who tried to explain it away. And then there were people who asked if we were over-doing it. After all, terrorist attacks occured everywhere else in the world, with much worse devastation, with more deaths, and more frequency and we weren’t all left walking like zombies over it. But the truth of the matter is that was the closest I’ve ever been to a terrroist event. And yes, I wasn’t in NY or Pennsylvania, or even DC. But it affected people I knew and loved. People I knew died. People I go to school with were going to enlist in the army over it. A war veteran! At 21! It was madness. TV’s were left on in the library (only on M level of course) for the whole week. But eventually, life continued. Except it was no longer the same.
10 years later, I’ve graduated from university, and even medical school. But I’m no longer in the States. But I still remember.