Eleven Years

11 Sep

I’ve always hated my own birthday parties. I think I inherited that from my mom.

See my mom grew up in a small house in a small Iowa town with five brothers and sisters, and they were always strapped for money. Her younger sister shared the same birthday week as her, so one weekend was her birthday party and the next weekend was my mom’s. They just kept up the decorations to save money.

My mom’s birthday was on a Thursday one year. She was turning 7. They decided to have the party on a Friday, November 22, 1963. JFK was killed in Dallas, Texas.

The decorations were up, but no one showed up.

Needless to say, that can scar a little 7 year old. Birthday parties are scary. People may not show up. They may not have fun. It’s a lot of drama to bring in to the picture on your own birthday.

I was one week shy of my 12th birthday when terrorists attacked our country, killing thousands.

Just as no one will forget where they were that day JFK was killed in 1963, no one will forget where they were that morning of September 11, 2001.

I was at my dad’s house. I had never heard of the word terrorist before. I had never heard of the World Trade Centers. I had never been to New York City. I was so confused. I just knew that something very, very bad had happened, and my life as an American would never be the same.

Unlike my mom, people did show up to my birthday party a few days after that on the Saturday. In lieu of gifts, I collected money for the American Red Cross. It was the best $140 check I have ever sent.

It has been eleven years since that day. I’ve moved states, twice. I graduated middle school, high school and college. Had my first kiss, first love, first heartbreak. I’ve had my first kid job, and my first real job. So much has changed since September 11, 2001.

Today I woke up in time to take the Marta and was fully planning on it.

Until I remembered it was September 11. And I didn’t want to take public transit.

Because I was scared.

The likelihood of something happening on one of the least-used public transits in one of the smaller metro cities in the U.S. is microscopic.

But I was still scared.

So I guess not much has changed.

But now that my 23rd birthday is a mere week away, I really should embrace my birthdays. Because today we all remember and celebrate those who lost their lives eleven years ago and weren’t blessed with the stress of having another birthday.

-gh

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