I don’t have much of a 9/11 story. I was sixteen at the time, a senior in high school. Living in Baltimore at the time, so close to Washington D.C., I never really thought about what would happen if there was an attack on the capital. To me, it was a back burner concern.
When the planes hit, I was in history class (I think). We were told to go to classroom with a TV in it for a newscast. The teachers told us that something happened in New York, that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and that it was pretty serious. As we watched the footage, a few kids freaked out, but it didn’t hit home for us until someone reported that the Pentagon had been hit. Some of my classmates had family that worked in that area, and, since cell phones weren’t common then, we had no way of contacting them. Then, local news began talking about efforts to protect our local World Trade Center building. My reaction? “::pause:: There’s a WTC in Baltimore? Downtown?!” Instant panic. I remember a shared sense of helplessness – that there was nothing that any of us could do, not only because of our age, but because our teachers wouldn’t let us leave the room.
After a few hours of watching the same footage over and over again, they dismissed school and told us to head home instantly. Easier said than done, since the MTA was shutting down all service downtown to protect people from a potential attack on our WTC building. When I called my mom, who worked for the Social Security Administration building at the time, from a payphone before I left (yes, I said payphone), she said that her building was evacuated as well. Since there was no way that I was going to make it home via public transportation, she picked me up from downtown, ironically near the SSA building (since it was the most deserted area of town).
The details of all that, however, are not what stand out in my mind about 9/11. What I remember most is the warm, thick air of a still warm September day, a breeze that came from nowhere and blew up my narrow street, the orange sky and sitting outside on my porch with my neighbors speculating and retelling our stories of the day. There was a sense of “being in this together” that was nice, in an odd way.