I’m getting back into the swing of blog surfing every day with my coffee and today, of all days, there is only one topic in sight. Check out the publishing date for this entry, and you couldn’t possibly wonder what that subject may be.
So here’s my story…
Ten years ago I had just started working at the University of Ottawa. I remember it was really hot for a September day, and I wasn’t looking forward to the walk home. For the time being, I figured I should just try to enjoy the air-conditioning that kept the class cold and not think about the stack of unpacked boxes in my stuffy apartment.
Class started at 8:30 – it was one of those 3 hour courses to start the day) – and I had the class into their first assignment by 8:45. Everything progressed as normal until the 10:00 break. At that point, like most people do, all my students headed out to check their emails and refill their coffee cups. By 10:15, though, not many of them were back. I had a quiz planned so I was really not too impressed and, as anyone who knows me can attest, I’m someone who believes adult students should be mature enough to follow a schedule.
…but September 11, 2011, was not a day during which anyone stuck to a schedule…
When my students finally did return, nothing they told me made sense. They said ‘World Trade Center’ but I heard ‘World Exchange Plaza’. The latter is a little shopping area in the business district of Ottawa located about a 10 minute walk from campus. “No,” I thought. “If a plane crashed not too far from here, I’d be able to see something outside the window and hear sirens.” Nothing.
Class finished…I let everyone out at 11:00 because I knew I had lost their attention. My boss was always very strict with lesson plans and objectives, and I was not looking forward to explaining how I had ‘lost’ it; there was a syllabus to follow, and universities are notorious for pushing through them – even when the students aren’t prepared.
Next came the walk home. Through the downtown business district. As soon as I hit the bridge I knew this whole World Exchange Plaza deal was a really odd tale to tell your instructor. Sure, people looked stressed and it was busier than normal, but I was just following the street lights. Red. Stop. Green. Go. Put my head up and saw emptying parking garages and people heading for the highway. Strange for Ottawa so close to the Parliament on a business day. Then I started down Bank St. which had the smaller stores – the ones with the TVs in the windows.
And holy crap, that was it.
I don’t think anyone can accurately describe that first feeling he or she experienced. I think most of us were numb and just didn’t understand what was happening. People standing on Bank St., frozen in front of electronic stores, and the shock. I remember feeling a bit weak after walking about 20 minutes. It took about an hour to get home.
I don’t really have anything too eloquent to say. This blog post has already wandered for too long. I’m just going through that day again. Class, walking home in the heat, my stomach dropping out, feeling weak, then spending the entire afternoon and night watching the same story on every channel…on a tiny TV perched atop a moving box. I think my roommate and I forgot to eat. I don’t know. It was just the planes slicing through the Twin Towers like a heated knife through butter that sticks in my mind after that long walk home.
But you know what? Despite that horrific act of hatred, I think it was the day that I fell in love with the world. Partisan lines dissolved and countries began to realize how connected we are. Thousands died that day. Millions rose to support another part of the world.
I’ll stop rambling…my sealift container has arrived and I should be unpacking it…but if you wouldn’t mind watching this clip from my favorite movie, you’ll understand why I fell in love with the world…the day the Twin Towers fell.