• I was eating oatmeal, and I remember it vividly


    I don’t remember the details of any morning during my freshman year of college, except for this one:

    I woke up about 15 minutes before my computer science class. I hopped down from my top bunk in my boxer shorts and put on a pair of jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. That’s all I ever wore, because I lived in Monterey, where fog is perpetual. I would normally take my shower after class, but that didn’t happen on this day.

    I ripped open two bags of maple brown-sugar oatmeal and poured them into a microwave-safe plastic bowl along with some water from the bathroom sink. While I was there, I glanced in the mirror to make sure I was semi-presentable for class.

    I put the oatmeal in the microwave for 2:22 and walked around the room, rounding up my things and putting them into my backpack. I opened the oatmeal right before the microwave beeped, so as not to wake up my roommates, who were both still asleep. One of them had his girlfriend in bed, too.

    I sat down at my computer and started on my oatmeal while the computer loaded up. I checked my email, but I don’t remember anything noteworthy.

And then it started: An AIM chat window popped up on my screen. It was my friend Joey:

    “Dude, a plane crashed into the Twin Towers,” or something along those lines.

    I said “wow,” and then visualized a tiny propeller plane plunking gingerly against the side of the massive building. With that, I finished my last bite of oatmeal. I set the bowl on my desk, and jammed to class.

So, while terrorists proceeded to attack the nation, the remnants of my oatmeal turned into cement along the side of that bowl. I didn’t scrub it off until the next day.

    I walked seven minutes to my class and immediately noticed a vibe of confusion, along with a tiny bit of concern. There were far fewer students than normal, as well.

    I had no friends in that class, so I sat in the back and observed my scattered peers. As soon as I heard someone mention the World Trade Center in conversation, I made the connection and knew instantly that something large was occurring. Moments later, the teacher stepped to her podium and spoke for the first time:

    “All classes are canceled today. Go home and turn on your TVs.”

    I ran back to my dorm room, and when I opened my door my two roommates were staring up at a small TV on the top of my roommate’s armoire. The girlfriend was there, too. She looked worried; my roommates looked shocked.

    And then a tower fell.

    And then another.

    And so on.

    We all know how it plays out from there, and we all remember precisely how it made us feel.

    I’m writing this on Sunday morning (9/11/2011), which means that exactly ten years ago, I went through the motions I just recounted above.

    The specifics of what I did that morning are of no significance; what’s powerful is the fact that I vividly remember them. I don’t even remember what I did yesterday morning.

    • That was what 9/11 did for everyone. Where we were and what we did will be with us forever.

    • Really interesting, how the mind works. Nice column!

    • Justin, That morning is like a photograph, a horrible one that we are self-forced to look at. I’m always ready to read your stuff so keep it coming.

    • Of all the things I do remember that morning is definitely a vivid one in mine too. I think it’s one of the most detailed things I remember of all my memories. Nice column! I’m excited to see you have a little home of writing here too. 🙂

    Leave a Comment