I woke up groggy. My tv was kind of loud. My shades drawn my room dark, with tiny flecks of light from the bright sun trying to squeak in. I look up at the tv and see black smoke everywhere. Two large buildings on fire. I was trying to remember what I fell asleep watching because this is weird for so early in the morning.
Then it cuts to Katie and Matt. This isn’t a movie it’s the Today show. I rub my eyes and try to read the words on the bottom of my tiny tv. I was living in a townhome with my dads best friends daughter. She always went to work early so I knew she wasn’t home. I stare at the tv. Did they just show a person jumping from this burning building? What the hell am I watching.
I sit up alert as ever. I realize what has happened. I am suddenly scared. What does this mean? I don’t know what to do. The buildings begin to collapse. I am part crying part sick to my stomach. I call my dad. He will reassure me. Wait what if he doesn’t know? He picks up. Dad? Have you seen the news? Yes alicia. What does it mean? I don’t know alicia. I just don’t know. Ok I love you dad. I love you too. I have to go to work dad. Ok be safe. I’ll call you if anything changes. Ok dad. Thanks.
I take a shower. I watch tv. I get dressed for work. I’m so early but I can’t watch tv anymore. I’m so scared I have to go to work. I work at Starbucks. I am just a supervisor. Oh God what if the openers don’t know?! I go straight to work.
Kyla, my manager, looks scared. She is holding back tears. they all know. Customers have been keeping them informed. Nobody knows what to do. They are starting to ask people to donate blood. Then the phone rings. Kyla looks at me and asks if I can clock in and help them close the store. I look at her so confused. Why? Because Howard wants us all to go home and be with our families. Be safe, but go home. No one knows what is going to happen next. It’s so early in the morning. we have all this food left. I have an idea. I tell Kyla we should round up all the pastries and take them to Houchin Blood Bank. I remember from the time I went with my boyfriend, now my husband, that they give you something sweet like a pastry to eat after donating. With all the people going to donate blood to help out New York rescue efforts, they aren’t going to have enough food. I call all the other stores in Bakersfield. Kyla picks it all up and drops it off at the blood bank. They are so grateful.
I go home and sit. I watch tv. I cry. I can’t believe this is happening. This is America! Why would anyone want todo this?!
A few days later we all know how this story goes. I have my ribbons ties to my Toyota 4 x 4. I am proud. I believe we will rise from the ashes a better America. I am stronger, braver for just being a citizen living in the same country as those hero’s. The people of 9/11.
I remember hearing the stories of Starbucks partners who stayed at their stores in New York, even after we were all told to go home, they stayed. They stayed and made coffee. Not to sell but for the rescue workers and hospital employees. Walking around passing put coffee to anyone who needed it. I am so proud.
I will never forget how I felt that morning. I don’t know anyone who ever will. We are a country who has forgotten we are all in this journey together. We are not done in our battle. There is still so much more to be done and we are fighting amongst ourselves. 9/11 isn’t about politics. There are no lobbyists vying to get their issue heard. Because this issue is an American issue not a republican or democrat issue. Let’s not forget the incredible sense of pride we had following that awful day. This country may not always behave in a way that makes you feel pride but don’t forget that when it mattered we were one. One nation under many Gods, praying for this to all be okay again. I will never forget.