I was in my first week of law school. I was getting ready when I got a call from a friend telling me to turn on the news. I did and I watched in disbelief until it was time to walk to campus.
We had class. Civil Procedure, to be exact – with Professor Elena Kagan. Incidentally she later went on to be Dean of the Law School and then to the Supreme Court. But that day she made what she later acknowledged was a mistake and had class. She hadn’t known the a scope of it all yet. None of us had.
Later that week, we sat together as a section and cried and told stories. But that day, we had class.
And then we walked out of the building and the world was upside down. We sat in the dorm common areas and watched it all unfold with the rest of the world. We vaguely wondered if Harvard could become a target because anything seemed possible. We walked the streets and made eye contact with strangers and knew that that day we were all one. We were angry. And we were one.
In the years since then I’ve stopped on this day and remembered. We all have. I forgive us for pushing it aside at times because some things hurt too much to process. The unfolding horrors. The sick bangs in the background of news broadcasts that we realized in horror were people hitting the sidewalk. People that had no choice but to jump or face something that was worse.
Even this magical place is somber today. In the time I’ve taken to write this from the upper level of the Main Street train station, I’ve lost track of the number of people that have come to stand with me and take pictures of the half mast flag. I’ve felt a union with them like I felt a union with the people on the streets 18 years ago.
I was just another person that day. I wasn’t there. I wasn’t back in New York yet. I wasn’t back in DC. I was just another person watching it all unfold and yet I still feel it. I think we all do. At least as much as we able able or willing to let ourselves wrap our heads around that day.
Like so many things I write this feels almost self indulgent – I have no more right than anyone to lay claim on the emotions of this day- but it’s all I have to give 18 years later. Just my memories to add to the collective conscious.