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9-11: Then and Now

JD started soccer last Saturday—September 11. As we drove to the field on the cool, clear morning, I found myself looking in the rearview mirror catching glimpses of JD as he looked out the window, then pulled the Velcro tabs on his sneakers—scratch-scratch.

I was 20-years-old and a junior in college on September 11 and now, here I am, 29, with a beautiful little boy, on our way to his first soccer practice. I woke up early on September 11, 2001 because I had a class. I was attending The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. My ballerina roommate had already left for an 8 A.M. dance class. I walked past the exposed brick wall in the living room of the walk-up brownstone apartment I lived in and flipped the television on, not looking at it. I started the coffee, then sat in a chair at the breakfast bar. Katie Couric reported that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center and that it must have been an accident. I called my mom who was working at a bank in NJ. She hadn’t heard the news yet. We hung up and I fixed myself a coffee while a horrifying image, big gushes of black smoke pushed out from a fiery hole in the tower. I sat back down, took a sip of coffee and watched the second plane crash into the other tower. I stared, coffee cup, mid-air. I called my Dad. He told me he was trying to find my older brother, Carlo, who was attending college in NYC.

I took a shower and walked eight blocks down Walnut Street to Broad Street. I had class. On the way, I passed people, who were yelling into their cell phones and I’ll never forget the image at Xando coffee shop. I paused and looked across the street at the place I often stopped to buy a latte. A swarm of people, with their shoulders touching were standing still, staring up at a television that was hanging from the wall. At Pine and Walnut, a woman in a skirt suit knelt down to a homeless man and gave him a ten dollar bill. “You better get something to eat, while you still can,” she said. By the time I entered the classroom, the Pentagon had been hit and city buildings in Philadelphia were being evacuated. School was canceled.

I tried to call my family, but my phone wasn’t working. I got a turkey sandwich with my friends Kateri, Jaz and Tanika—and as we walked to my apartment, we all looked cautiously at epic City Hall and the statue of William Penn, wondering if it was going to be hit. We sat in an arch on the living room floor, crying, not crying, watching the news.

The opening ceremonies of soccer paid tribute to 9-11. The entire league, parents and coaches crowded around a baseball field and the head coach asked for a moment of silence. Two seconds into this moment of silence, JD looked left and right and turned around. “There a lot of people here, Mama! So many!” he YELLED. People laughed. I smiled. 10 years later, I smiled on 9-11 and meant it.

JD couldn’t help himself. The cutoff for soccer was three-years-old and he just turned three. Looking around he was one of the youngest, tiniest kids there. After the moment of silence that was slightly interrupted by MY KID (blush), the coach asked for two kids to come out onto the field to make goals and kick the season off. Every, single kid raised their hand, only two were picked. They kicked, they scored, we clapped. Then my son who was sitting on his ball, stood up and grabbed it. “I take my turn now,” he said and RAN AWAY onto the field. I ran after him, but the coach waved me to stop. JD kicked, scored and we clapped.

9-11, nine years later. A lot has changed! Have you read Denene Millner's 9-11 blog over at the Parentiing Post. Read it. Trust me.

Share your 9-11 stories. What do you tell your kids about the day? Are you a soccer mom? Have a nice weekend! JD has a friend's bday party at the zoo (so cool!) and we also have a baptism to attend. XO

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