Where Were You?

It’s a day I’m sure we’ll never forget.

Ryan and I hadn’t even been married six months. We were still new in town, he was going to school, and I was working at Target, as the store’s operator. I spent the whole day listening to the radio and delivering updates to the rest of the employees that couldn’t leave their assignments on the floor–while everyone else stood transfixed in the break-room, watching the terror on TV.

I remember feeling like the whole thing couldn’t be real–it had to be some kind of joke of War of the Worlds proportions, or a nightmare, or something, anything but what it was–America under attack.

The was the first (and likely the last) day that I have seen Target so devoid of customers. At arguably the busiest Target in the St. Louis metro area, the parking lot was eerily empty–almost solely employees’ cars.

The phone remained silent for most of the morning–but in the early afternoon, it started ringing, and it was almost always the same question–“do you have any American flags in stock?” And for the next several weeks, that was the most asked question of everyone who called and came into the store, and for a long time, the answer was usually “no,” because we just couldn’t keep up with the demand.

Another strange thing was leaving work that day, and not hearing any planes flying overhead. My whole life, I have always lived within about 30 minutes of a fairly busy airport, and the sound of planes flying is just part of the white noise of life. So the silence that day was one more eerie aspect of a day gone horribly wrong.

For once, it didn’t matter that we didn’t have cable at home–all the networks were showing the same thing, and it’s all Ryan and I watched. And all we talked about, even with strangers. I remember going to gas up the car, (just in case), and strangers at the pumps talking about what happened, what would happen next, what the American response would be. It’s funny the way tragedy brings a sense of community, and people who have never met, and would normally never speak to each other, band together to face a common enemy.

Somehow, my oldest children know about 9/11, even though I haven’t talked to them about it yet. I guess it’s just part of American culture now–you can’t grow-up here and *not* know about it. So, we’ll probably talk about it in school today, and I’ll do my best to answer their questions without frightening them.

So, where were you? I know none of us has forgotten, and never will…

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