I was sitting on front desk duty with Mr. Little. It was first period, a little after 9 AM. A visitor entered the building and said, "Did you hear on the radio - I was just listening - a plane hit the World Trade Center."
Mr. Little and I envisioned a small plane, perhaps a single engine prop plane with a mechanical problem, flying accidentally into the WTC. It had happend before to the Empire State Building.
By the end of first period, 9:45 AM, the buzz was building, however. Televisions were on in some classrooms and people were watching the live action of the burning, and the second plane hitting the second tower. Then the endless repitition, the horrified reporters and observers, the unbelivable events were unfolding for everyone who had a working television feed or Internet connection.
We walked out the back side of the building that faces towards New York City and could see the smoke.
It was horrible and sad. It was hard to react. Many students, even though they were 14-19 years old, just went about their business and didn't fully understand. Actually, none of us fully understood. How could we. We all just watched and listened and hoped we could remain safe and untouched.
And I ran that day with my son on his bicycle next to me. I talked to him about what had happened in New York City on that day. He was only 7 years old, but he had heard about it and seen some on TV after my wife and I arrived home.
In retrospect that run was a turning point in his life more than mine. Because I knew the pre-9/11 world much better than he could know it. He has lived almost half of his life now in this world that continues to behave under the influence of 9/11. He is developing the major characteristics of his personality in this world.
My run that day with my son was the balm that made me able to cope with the horror of September 11, 2001. My running is a comfort that unites my life every day. It is a constant that I can depend on. Each run forms a whole, like a string of pearls, that extends back to the "old world" of peace; of high school, through these events, into today, and into the future.
I am going to try to get my 13 year-old son to go for a run with me today and talk to him about that other run in September of 2001. I wonder if he would remember it. But he won't come with me, and I won't force him, because he will have some homework to do, some online games to play, some dinner to eat before his 6 PM soccer practice.