This post is not meant to be depressing. It is not meant to rehash all the emotions from this day 14 year ago. Its purpose is to serve as a reminder as well as an insight into how this day in history and the incidents involved changed travel for myself and everyone else forever.
I was a freshman in high school at the time. Smartphones may have existed, blackberry probably but I didn’t have one. I was at school in the same spot as always talking to friends when a friend received a text from their parents regarding the events. Thinking back on it now, I remember being confused as to what they were trying to say. Not because they were screaming or crying but because I really had no idea what they were talking about. What they could have even meant.
So I went to my first class of the day like normal. In Houston time it was like 8ish AM so it was 9 in NYC. I remember the announcement over the loudspeaker and still being confused as to what it meant. It was only when my Spanish teacher from Madrid, who had the thickest accent, turned on the TV that I finally understood. That the magnitude of what occurred fully set in.
9/11 and the aftermath, the years of aftermath really, have been so many things. Awe-inspiring, maddening, saddening. SO many emotions. My life was not directly affected by that day, meaning I did not have any friends or relatives harmed or killed, but it was still very profound. Even my friends who have done tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan following the attacks are alive and well.
But what 9/11 did for, I feel so many people, is bring up a guardedness that didn’t use to be there. I was 14. I was a stupid kid, who hated going to school, would have rather just spent time playing soccer and hanging out with friends. But what I didn’t know that day or even the days or years following is just how profoundly it would alter how I approached life.
4 years later, with a great deal of negotiation and coaxing, specifically due to the fear stemming from this one day in time, I would get on a plane bound for the farthest from home I’d ever been. And alone too.
I don’t really remember traveling much before that date 14 years ago. I don’t really remember airport security being lax, as I’d only flow 2 or 3 times. But it wasn’t exactly rocket science to figure out that getting on a plane was definitely not as simple, easy, or smooth as it used to be. With TSA rolling out new measures constantly, with each country having its own set of checks, with each day having a different color level or terrorist threat warning, you just knew it was different.
14 years later, while I’ve become incredibly accustomed to the procedures in place, there is still very much the painful knowledge that it never used to be like this. That before all this, people trusted each other. That someone wouldn’t take advantage of stashing something in my suitcase if I left it unattended, or would try to steal it. That people didn’t look at someone who appeared to have darker skin and automatically be suspicious or afraid.
And what’s even more saddening is that after 14 years, two “wars”, and thousands dead, there is still no peace surrounding this incident and its ramification. And being taught to trust no one is one of the biggest priority lessons of the modern age.
We used to live in a world where trust was all we had. And all we had was enough.