I panicked

Just as I said about being in a big earthquake, everybody’s got a Sept. 11 experience to share. Mine is embarrassing.

I woke up that morning when my husband came in the bedroom and turned the news on.

He said, “This is it. This is war. The shit’s hitting the fan.”

But I heard, “This is the day we’re going to have that nuclear war you’ve worried about your whole life.”

This is a terrible way to wake up.

I looked at the screen and started firing questions. The second plane had just hit the second tower. My Adrenalin was rushing, and I couldn’t process the information.

I climbed out of bed to see the TV better, and Jim Miklashevski said with a tremble, “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we just felt and heard what seemed like an explosion at the Pentagon.”

That was the turning point for me. I thought bombs were dropping, leadership would be wiped out, and we’d be living the end verse of Nena’s 99 Luftballons.

I had two lucid thoughts: I regretted having children, and my bowels were turning to water.

I started to beg my husband to stay home. He raised his eyebrows and told me no as he knotted his necktie.

It was the second day of school. My kids were in first and third grade. My husband’s students were freshmen.

He put a cassette in the VCR, hit record and left. The children were just getting up.

This was bad. I was panicking, no one was helping me and I was in charge of people.

Let me back up a day, to explain my son’s state of mind.

On the playground after school he scaled the top of the new tube slide. The new principal, who was scary and mean, scolded him. He scowled and defended himself.

I told him that we were going to school early the next morning so he could go in her office and apologize for being disrespectful. He was so nervous about this his stomach was sick.

My daughter, as always, was just chill.

I took them to school and called in at work. They were not pleased. I worked in a newsroom, after all.

I went to Mama’s house. Nana showed up too. After about an hour I couldn’t stand it; I pulled my children out of school. I figured if it was our last day alive, we were going to spend it together, laughing. We got ice cream and rented Back to the Future.

I was so stressed out, I was wishing I had what I used to consider real trouble — money, kids, conflicting obligations. I told my mom, “I would give anything to have my old problems back.”

It took me months to come down from the panic. I was at the top of the short list for counseling at work.

I learned about nukes and international relations and terrorism. I learned how ignorant I was. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s fright.

I let my son wait a week before apologizing to his principal, who was a bitch about it.

It was a horrible time all around.

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2 Responses to “I panicked”

  1. Kevin Brady Says:

    I was in Italy, my Dad was in Denver, my sister was in Seattle, and my
    Mom was in Hong Kong. She was NOT happy that day about having the
    family literally spread over the entire world. She actually got stuck
    in Hong Kong for three days since no international flight were allowed
    into the States. Ended up flying to Vancouver and my sister drove
    across the border to pick her up. Craziness.

  2. Gunky Says:

    I’m still scared shitless and am actively trying to figure out how to leave and live outside the country.
    what’s that say of me?
    ( we are so alike.)

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