I’m sitting outside of the Blasco library on Lake Erie’s bayfront waiting to pick up the girls from their teen book club meeting. I had planned on going in, but a March Nor’easter is blowing in and it is nasty as hell outside—blowing wind and wet snow—and the parking lot is awfully far from the building and I only have a hoodie on because when I left the house and hour ago it was raining.
Welcome to Erie. Don’t like the weather? Wait an hour, it will change.
So I sit in my car in the parking lot, listening to a podcast, facing the 9/11 Memorial in front of the library. The memorial includes part of a steel beam from one of the World Trade Centers. It’s lit up and next to it is a large American flag that whips violently in the wind.
I think about that morning. I was home on maternity leave, caring for a newborn Kelly. I remember thinking “My God, what kind of a world did I just bring a child into?”
I think about how life changed after 9/11. I think about the flight I’m taking that Saturday and how I need to make sure all liquids in my carry-on are less than 3 oz., how I’ll have to remove my boots and put them on the security conveyor belt with my laptop, my camera, my phone, the contents of my pockets, my purse, my jacket before I step into a full-body scanner.
It’s inconvenient and annoying and they’ve made flying a positively miserable experience (especially if you’re leaving the country), but it was born of a tragedy. The loss of 2,997 people.
Meanwhile, there have been nearly 150 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013, according to Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and nothing has been done to stop or prevent the slaughters (primarily by angry young white men) from continuing.
I wonder where the next one will be. I hope it won’t be in Erie.
Our country is deeply divided on the gun issue, but then, it’s deeply divided in general these days.
Staring at that 9/11 Memorial it occurs to me that those terrorists got exactly what they wanted: To destroy the United States of America. To scare us. To divide us. To make us afraid. To test our democracy.
9/11 gave rise to Fox News…and the angry white man….and the wave of teenagers using a semiautomatic rifle to blow away children to….to…what? Make a point? Make others hurt, too? Take a bunch of people with you? Payback for perceived slights? Make it on the front page? Bring violent video games to life? Give them a reason to really hate you?
I don’t know…I just don’t know.
Sixteen years after 9/11, I’m still wondering what kind of a world I brought my daughters into.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. You just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”