I was in 9th grade. Summer had ended, and I was officially in high school. I remember thinking how cool it was that I got to wear “normal clothes” to school. I just graduated 8th grade and had to wear a uniform for years to a Catholic school. I was ecstatic to wear a Blink 182 t-shirt, jeans and hang out with my friends in the halls. From an early age, I was always trying to bend rules, not break them, just bend them a little. I would always figure out some loophole in scheduling that would allow me to get three art classes, or a befriend the school secretary so she could help me figure out ways to get our of school early, legally. I was always the one who talked everyone’s parents out of grounding us for whatever pathetically stupid thing we did, like run down the street naked or allow five 16-year-old boys to embark on their first cross-country DIY tours having just secured their licenses days prior or blow up a small refrigerator in our local park with quarter sticks of dynamite. Whatever happened, I was usually the one who got us out of it.
I just got to school, and everyone was filing into their classes. My friends and I were hungry, and the vending machine in the cafeteria was always stocked with Big Texas cinnamon rolls and Iced Tea. It was the perfect mix of sugar and carbs that any young body needs to power through the day. The only problem was you couldn’t access the cafeteria until lunch; the entrances were chained and dead bolted. Luckily, I was only about 80 pounds in 9th grade and could squeeze through the crack in the door to get our breakfast, regardless of chained doors. With the chaos of everyone running to try to get to class on time, this was my chance. I made my way through the halls, to the open forum and to the side door of the cafeteria that no one paid attention too. I squeezed through the doors with ease and found my way to the vending machines. Being 80 pounds, it was also easy for me to get my arm all the way through the vending machine door to get however many Big Texas’ and Iced Teas we needed. I am a man of the people. This was when the school alarms started going off.
I ripped my arm from the vending machine and ran to class, dropping and spilling my contraband as I made my way through the halls. Everyone was still milling around by the time I got there to my classroom, and I found my way to my desk; no one seemed to notice. I remember when the alarm finally turned off and my teacher looked concerned, not sad, not upset. She had a heightened sense of awareness. Another teacher darted into our class and asked to speak to her for a minute in the hallway. I didn’t know if I was in trouble or what was going to happen. When she came back in everyone knew we had to pay attention. I knew that they weren’t looking for me. They didn’t care how many iced teas I had. It was as if we all snapped out of our adolescents for a minute. Sort of a loss of innocence. We were all together regardless of maturity, age, sex or race. Something was not right. She explained that some bombing or explosion had happened in New York. I remember being kind of scared but also unsure. “Why were this such a big deal? New York is miles away; we are safe right?” I had no idea what or how to feel.
She turned on the big box TV from the 70’s bolted to the upper right corner of the classroom, and then I understood.
Regardless of what you think about today, regardless if you think it was an inside job, terrorists, flying spaghetti monster, our government or whatever other theory is out there, people lost their lives today that didn’t have too. That’s a fact, and it still brings emotions I can’t describe.