Monday, September 12, 2011

Memories of September 11, 2001 and Why I've Never Been to Institute

I may be a day late with this memoir, but lately I've been feeling like I need to document, in writing, how our family experienced that terrible day 10 years ago. 


 We'd officially bought our first (and current) house just a few weeks previously and on that beautiful September morning, we were just beginning to reestablish a daily routine again.   I had just dropped Spencer off at school for his second week of first grade and I was on my way to bring Cami to her first day of co-op preschool.  When I turned on the car to bring Cami to preschool, the first sounds I heard blaring from the radio were, "Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Another plane just hit the second tower!"   I remember my heart jumping into my throat in panic as I waited impatiently for the announcer to calm down and explain what on earth was going on.   I continued driving and felt a little relieved when a few minutes later they said something about it all happening in New York City.  I was horrified, but somehow it all still seemed far away. 

After dropping Cami off, I drove off with my ten-month-old baby, Emma to try out Stake Institute for the first time in my life.  We hadn't been at the church very long, when someone interrupted the lesson to inform us that another plane had just hit the Pentagon.   At this point, it all got very personal very fast.  People gasped out loud, a few started crying, and many ran out of the building to try to call their loved ones.  At this point, although Glen's office was a mile or two away from the Pentagon, no one knew how many more planes there were and what was going to happen next, and everyone, including me, was panicked that our city was under attack. 

We didn't have cell phones at the time, so I raced home to try to touch base with Glen. As often happens in instances like this, the phone lines were jammed and I couldn't get through to him at all.  All the while I kept trying to get a call through to him, I sat there with my eyes glued on the television to watch the horrible imagery unfolding before me.  As horrified as I was watching the towers fall, I was equally as stunned when I realized that it was commercial airliners that were crashing into the buildings, rather than small personal planes that I had been envisioning up until then.   

Eventually Glen was able to get a call through to me on his co-worker, Steve's cell phone.  He informed me that he and Steve were fleeing the city together and that they were definitely not setting foot on the Metro, since they worried about it being another potential target for the terrorists. Glen and Steve tried to flee in Steve's car, but it didn't take long to realize that traffic was not going anywhere fast.  So they decided to walk. 

And they walked and walked and walked all the way to Steve's house in Arlington, passing right by the smoking Pentagon on the way.    In Arlington, Glen borrowed Steve's bike and rode the rest of the way home--in total about 15 miles.  It was a long, exhausting, and terrifying day and I was so relieved when that afternoon, our entire family was all back together again. 

In the weeks following that day, I remember with pride, the unity we felt in our community and our country.    Although the terrorists had caused unspeakable tragedy, they couldn't rob us, as a nation, of our American pride. 

Now ten years later, I still have one big gaping scar from that day that I've never been able to overcome.  It may sound silly, but for some reason, the whole experience provided enough of a strong negative associative memory for me, that I've never (not even once) set foot back into an Institute classroom again since that day.   September 11, 2001 was the first and only time I've ever gone to Institute and it is forever emblazoned in my brain as a place of bad news, tears, and fearfulness. 

However, I'm putting it here for the whole world to see...that in celebration of a decade of healing, I'm going to change all that tomorrow.   

My pep talk to myself: 
Institute ≠ Unspeakable Horror. 
Institute = Spiritual Enlightenment. 

UPDATE:  I overcame my phobia and went to Institute yesterday and loved it.  I plan on being back often.  :)


Dad-Mom said...

Like so many other stories about 9/11 that we heard this weekend, this is fascinating. Actually since you are a BYU grad, you have two years of Institute. Still amazed by Glen's 15-mile walk/ride past the burning Pentagon.

annalisa said...

A day that none of us will ever forget!

So how did institute go?!

Clarinda said...

Thanks for sharing this, Lara.

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