A radio station posed an unique question: How did you spend the day before 9/11? How was your last normal day? To be honest, I have no clue. But I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday…
I was a 19 year old sophomore at West Virginia University, who was way over my head. It was my first time being a resident assistant and the school year was fairly new. I didn’t really know any of my kids yet, and it was hard to demand respect when I was only a year older than them; it’d be much easier and laidback if I was their friend instead.
Aaliyah had passed away only a few days before, so I was still grieving her loss. I was a huge fan of her music and liked her as a person. She seemed pretty cool and humble for a celebrity (we all know famous people can have quite the ego sometimes).
That morning I woke up and did my routine as usual. I hopped on the PRT and talked to my friend Josh. I went to my Ballroom class at the Coliseum, then got a ride with Nicole back to Summit Hall. She was an RA two floors below me. I ate breakfast in the cafeteria. When I swiped my card, the lunch lady told me that two planes hit two towers. The way she mentioned it sounded like a tragic accident, so I didn’t think anything of it above feeling sad for all the victims and their families. As far as I knew, planes crash occasionally.
Afterward, me, Crystal, and Nicole (the only RAs in the building at the time) had an emergency meeting with our bosses. We were told of the terrorist attacks–now it clicked what the lunch lady meant–and told that the university wouldn’t hold it against students if they didn’t attend classes that day. We were told to be extra sensitive to the residents since most of them were from New Jersey and New York City, who could have lost family. I was in shock; we have training like this at the beginning of the year, but you never think that something will happen that you’ll have to exercise it.
The hallways were eerily quiet, except Aaron kept yelling “World War III!!!” off the balcony. He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to, so I got Crystal to act stern with him. She was better at confrontation than me. At the time, he was being an insensitive jerk, but he turned out to be one of my favorite residents throughout the year.
I had a message from my family, so I called them back, letting them know I was okay. I’m the type of person if I’m sad, I have to keep moving. Doesn’t matter what it is; I need distractions otherwise I’ll shut down. For me, the best thing I could do was attend the rest of my classes. Surprisingly, over half of the students made both classes. I came back to Summit and made sure to keep my door open, in case anyone needed to talk. I was helpful anyway I could think of, letting people borrow my phone, being a shoulder to cry on, etc.
Then I cried myself to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and began my same routine…
That’s how I spent my day on September 11, 2001. How did you spend yours?